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Full text of "The passionate friends : a novel"

THE 

PASSIONATE 
FRIENDS 



A NOVEL 
BY 

H. G. WELLS 

AUTHOR OF 
"ANN VERONICA" ETC. 



"There are at least two sorts of women ' 

OTTO LlMBURGER 



ILLUSTRATED 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

MCMXIII 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
PUBLISHED OCTOBER. 1913 



L-N 



TO 
L. E. N. S. 



283185 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON i 

II. BOYHOOD 14 

III. INTENTIONS AND THE LADY MARY CHRISTIAN ... 40 

IV. THE MARRIAGE OF THE LADY MARY CHRISTIAN . . 73 

V. THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA 102 

VI. LADY MARY JUSTIN 132 

VII. BEGINNING AGAIN 197 

VIII. THIS SWARMING BUSINESS OF MANKIND 220 

IX. THE SPIRIT OF THE NEW WORLD 246 

X. MARY WRITES 280 

XI. THE LAST MEETING 318 

XII. THE ARRAIGNMENT OF JEALOUSY 358 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 



THE 
PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

CHAPTER THE FIRST 
MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 



[ WANT very much to set down my thoughts and my 
1 experiences of life. I want to do so now that I have 
come to middle age and now that my attitudes are all 
defined and my personal drama worked out . I feel that 
the toil of writing and reconsideration may help to clear 
and fix many things that remain a little uncertain in 
my thoughts because they have never been fully stated, 
and I want to discover any lurking inconsistencies and 
unsuspected gaps. And I have a story. I have lived 
through things that have searched me. I want to tell 
that story as well as I can while I am still a clear-headed 
and active man, and while many details that may pres- 
ently become blurred and altered are still rawly fresh in 
my mind. And to one person in particular do I wish to 
think I am writing, and that is to you, my only son. I 
want to write my story not indeed to the child you are 
now, but to the man you are going to be. You are half 

i 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

my blood and temperamentally altogether mine. A day 
will come when you will realize this, and want to know 
how life has gone with me, and then it may be altogether 
too late for me to answer your enquiries. I may have 
become inaccessible as old people are sometimes inac- 
cessible. And so I think of leaving this book for you 
at any rate, I shall write it as if I meant to leave it for 
you. Afterwards I can consider whether I will indeed 
leave it. ... 

The idea of writing such a book as this came to me 
first as I sat by the dead body of your grandfather 
my father. It was because I wanted so greatly such a 
book from him that I am now writing this. He died, 
you must know, only a few months ago, and I went to 
his house to bury him and settle all his affairs. 

At one time he had been my greatest friend. He had 
never indeed talked to me about himself or his youth, 
but he had always showed an extraordinary sympathy 
and helpfulness for me in all the confusion and per- 
plexities into which *I fell. This did not last to the end 
of his life. I was the child of his middle years, and sud- 
denly, in a year or less, the curtains of age and infirmity 
fell between us. There came an illness, an operation, 
and he rose from it ailing, suffering, dwarfed and alto- 
gether changed. Of all the dark shadows upon life I 
think that change through illness and organic decay in 
the thoughts and spirits of those who are dear and close 
to us is the most evil and distressing and inexplicable. 
Suddenly he was a changeling, a being querulous and 
pitiful, needing indulgence and sacrifices. 

In a little while a new state of affairs was established. 
I ceased to consider him as a man to whom one told 

2 



MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 

things, of whom one could expect help or advice. We 
all ceased to consider him at all in that way. We hu- 
mored him, put pleasant things before him, concealed 
whatever was disagreeable. A poor old man he was in- 
deed in 'those concluding years, weakly rebellious against 
the firm kindliness of my cousin, his housekeeper and 
nurse. He who had once been so alert was now at times 
astonishingly apathetic. At times an impish malice I 
had never known in him before gleamed in little acts and 
speeches. His talk rambled, and for the most part was 
concerned with small, long-forgotten contentions. It was 
indistinct and difficult to follow because of a recent loss of 
teeth, and he craved for brandy, to restore even for a 
moment the sense of strength and well-being that ebbed 
and ebbed away from him. So that when I came to look 
at his dead face at last, it was with something like amaze- 
ment I perceived him grave and beautiful more grave 
and beautiful than he had been even in the fullness of 
life. 

All the estrangement of the fiflfl years was wiped 
in an instant from my mind -as I looked upon his face. 
There came back a rush of memories, of kind, strong, 
patient, human aspects of his fatherhood. And I re- 
'"membered as every son must remember even you, my 
dear, will some day remember because it is in the very 
nature of sonship insubordinations, struggles, ingrati- 
tudes, great benefits taken unthankfully, slights and 
disregards. It was not remorse I felt, nor repentance, 
but a tremendous regret that so things had happened 
and that life, should be so. Why is it, I thought, that 
when a son has come to manhood he cannot take his 
father for a friend? I had a curious sense of unprece- 

3 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

dented communion as I stood beside him now. I felt 
that he understood my thoughts; his face seemed to an- 
swer with an expression of still and sympathetic patience. 

I was sensible of amazing gaps. We had never talked 
together of love, never of religion. 

All sorts of things that a man of twenty-eight would 
not dream of hiding from a coeval he had hidden from me. 
For some days I had to remain in his house, I had to go 
through his papers, handle all those intimate personal 
things that accumulate around a human being year by 
year letters, yellowing scraps of newspaper, tokens, relics 
kept, accidental vestiges, significant litter. I learnt many 
things I had never dreamt of. At times I doubted 
whether I was not prying, whether I ought not to risk 
the loss of those necessary legal facts I sought, and burn 
these papers unread. There were love letters, and many 
such touching things. 

My m^nories of him did not change because of these 
new lighl^ but they became wonderfully illuminated. 
I realized him as a young man, I began to see him as a boy. 
I found a little half -bound botanical book with stencil- 
tinted illustrations, a good-conduct prize my father had 
won at his preparatory school; a rolled-up sheet of paper, 
carbonized and dry and brittle, revealed itself as a piece of 
specimen writing, stiff with boyish effort, decorated in 
ambitious and faltering flourishes and still betraying the 
pencil rulings his rubber should have erased. Already 
your writing is better than that. And I found a daguerreo- 
type portrait of him in knickerbockers against a photog- 
rapher's stile. His face then was not unlike yours. I 
stood with that in my hand at the little bureau in his 
bedroom, and looked at his dead face. 

4 



MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 

The flatly painted portrait of his father, my grand- 
father, hanging there in the stillness above the coffin, 
looking out on the world he had left with steady, humorous 
blue eyes that followed one about the room, that, too, 
was revivified, touched into reality and participation by 
this and that, became a living presence at a conference of 
lives. Things of his were there also in that life's accu- 
mulation. . . . 

There we were, three Strattons together, and down 
in the dining-room were steel engravings to take us back 
two generations further, and we had all lived full lives, 
suffered, attempted, signified. I had a glimpse of the 
long successions of mankind. What a huge inaccessible 
lumber-room of thought and experience we amounted to, 
I thought; how much we are, how little we transmit. 
Each one of us was but a variation, an experiment upon 
the Stratton theme. All that I had now under my hands 
was but the merest hints and vestiges, movinjj and sur- 
prising indeed, but casual and fragmentai^ of those 
obliterated repetitions. Man is a creature becoming 
articulate, and why should those men have left so much 
of the tale untold to be lost and forgotten? Why must 
we all repeat things done, and come again very bitterly 
to wisdom our fathers have achieved before us? My 
grandfather there should have left me something better 
than the still enigma of his watching face. All my life 
so far has gone in learning very painfully what many men 
have learnt before me; I have- spent the greater part of 
forty years in finding a sort of purpose for the uncertain 
and declining decades that remain. Is it not time the 
generations drew together and helped one another? 
Cannot we begin now to make a better use of the experi- 

5 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

ences of life so that our sons may not waste themselves 
so much, cannot we gather into books that men may read 
in an hour or so the gist of these confused and multitu- 
dinous realities of the individual career ? Surely the time 
is coming for that, when a new private literature will 
exist, and fathers and mothers behind their r61es of rulers, 
protectors, and supporters, will prepare frank and intimate 
records of their thought and their feeling, told as one tells 
things to equals, without authority or reserves or discre- 
tions, so that, they being dead, their children may re- 
discover them as contemporaries and friends. 

That desire for self-expression is indeed already almost 
an instinct with many of us. Man is disposed to create 
a traditional wisdom. For me this book I contemplate 
is a need. I am just a year and a half from a bitter tragedy 
and the loss of a friend as dear as life to me. It is very 
constantly in my mind. She opened her mind to me as 
few people open their minds to anyone. In a way, little 
Stephen, S^e died for you. And I am so placed that I 
have no one to talk to quite freely about her. The one 
other person to whom I talk, I cannot talk to about her; 
it is strange, seeing how we love and trust one another, but 
so it is; you will understand that the better as this story 
unfolds. For eight long years before the crisis that 
culminated in her tragic death I never saw her; yet, 
quite apart from the shock and distresses of that time, it 
has left me extraordinarily lonely and desolate. 

And there was a kind of dreadful splendor in that last 
act of hers, which has taken a great hold upon my imagina- 
tion; it has interwoven with everything else in my mind, 
it bears now upon every question. I cannot get away from 
it, while it is thus pent from utterance. . . . Perhaps 

6 



MR. STRATTON TO HLS SON 

having written this to you I may never show it you or 
leave it for you to see. But yet I must write it. Of all 
conceivable persons you, when you have grown to man- 
hood, are the most likely to understand. 



2 

You did not come to see your dead grandfather, nor 
did you know very much about the funeral. Nowadays 
we do not bring the sweet egotisms, the vivid beautiful 
personal intensities of childhood, into the cold, vast 
presence of death. I would as soon, my dear, have sent 
your busy little limbs toiling up the Matterhorn. I have 
put by a photograph of my father for you as he lay in 
that last stillness of his, that you will see at a properer 
time. 

Your mother and I wore black only at his funeral 
and came back colored again into your colored world, 
and in a very little while your interest in this event 
that had taken us away for a time turned to other, more 
assimilable things. But there happened a little incident 
that laid hold upon me ; you forgot it, perhaps, in a week or 
less, but I shall never forget it; and this incident it was 
that gathered up the fruits of those moments beside 
my father's body and set me to write this book. It had 
the effect of a little bright light held up against the vague 
dark immensities of thought and feeling that filled my 
mind because of my father's death. 

Now that I come to set it down I see that it is altogether 
trivial, and I cannot explain how it is that it is to me so 
piercingly significant. I had to whip you. Your respect 

7 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

for the admirable and patient Mademoiselle Potin, the 
protectress and companion of your public expeditions, 
did in some slight crisis suddenly fail you. In the extreme 
publicity of Kensington Gardens, in the presence of your 
two little sisters, before a startled world, you expressed an 
opinion of her, in two languages and a loud voice, that 
was not only very unjust, but extremely offensive and 
improper. It reflected upon her intelligence and goodness ; 
it impeached her personal appearance; it was the kind of 
outcry no little gentleman should ever permit himself, 
however deeply he may be aggrieved. You then, so far 
as I was able to disentangle the evidence, assaulted her 
violently, hurled a stone at her, and fled her company. 
You came home alone by a route chosen by yourself, 
flushed and wrathful, braving the dangers of Kensington 
High Street. This, after my stern and deliberate edict 
that, upon pain of corporal punishment, respect and 
obedience must be paid to Mademoiselle Potin. The 
logic of the position was relentless. 

But where your behavior was remarkable, where the 
affair begins to touch my imagination, was that you 
yourself presently put the whole business before me. 
Alone in the schoolroom, you seem to have come to some 
realization of the extraordinary dreadfulness of your 
behavior. Such moments happen in the lives of all 
small boys; they happened to me times enough, to my 
dead father, to that grandfather of the portrait which is 
now in my study, to his father and his, and so on through 
long series of Strattons, back to inarticulate, shock-haired 
little sinners slinking fearfully away from the awful 
wrath, the bellowings and limitless violence of the hairy 
Old Man of the herd. The bottom goes out of your 



MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 

heart then, you are full of a conviction of sin. So far 
you did but carry on the experience of the race. But 
to ask audience of me, to come and look me in the eye, 
to say you wanted my advice on a pressing matter, that 
I think marks almost a new phase in the long developing 
history of father and son. And your account of the fracas 
struck me as quite reasonably frank and honest. "I 
didn't seem able," you observed, "not to go on being 
badder and badder." 

We discussed the difficulties of our situation, and you 
passed sentence upon yourself, I saw to it that the out- 
raged dignity of Mademoiselle Potin was mocked by no 
mere formality of infliction. You did your best to be 
stoical, I remember, but at last you yelped and wept. 
Then, justice being done, you rearranged your costume. 
The situation was a little difficult until you, still sobbing 
and buttoning you are really a shocking bad hand at 
buttons and looking a very small, tender, ruffled, rueful 
thing indeed, strolled towards my study window. "The 
pear tree is out next door," you remarked, without a trace 
of animosity, and sobbing as one might hiccough. 

I suppose there are moments in the lives of all grown 
men when they come near to weeping aloud. In some 
secret place within myself I must have been a wild river 
of tears. I answered, however, with the same admirable 
detachment from the smarting past that you had achieved, 
that my study window was particularly adapted to the 
appreciation of our neighbor's pear tree, because of its 
height from the ground. We fell into a conversation 
about blossom and the setting of fruit, kneeling together 
upon my window-seat and looking up into the pear tree 
against the sky, and then down through its black branches 

9 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

into the gardens all quickening with spring. We were on 
so friendly a footing when presently Mademoiselle Potin 
returned and placed her dignity. or her resignation in 
my hands, that I doubt if she believed a word of all my 
assurances until the unmistakable confirmation of your 
evening bath. Then, as I understood it, she was extremely 
remorseful to you and indignant against my violence. . . . 

But when I knelt with you, little urchin, upon my 
window-seat, it came to me as a thing almost intolerably 
desirable that some day you should become my real 
and understanding friend. I loved you profoundly. I 
wanted to stretch forward into time and speak to you, 
man myself to the man you are yet to be. It seemed 
to me that between us there must needs be peculiar 
subtleties of sympathy. And I remembered that by the 
time you were a man fully grown and emerging from the 
passionately tumultuous openings of manhood, capable 
of forgiving me all my blundering parentage, capable of 
perceiving all the justifying fine intention of my ill- 
conceived disciplines and misdirections, I might be either 
an old man, shriveling again to an inexplicable egotism, 
or dead. I saw myself as I had seen my father first en- 
feebled and then inaccessibly tranquil. When presently 
you had gone from my study, I went to my writing-desk and 
drew a paper pad towards me, and satHhinking and mak- 
ing idle marks upon it with my pen. I wanted to exceed 
the limits of those frozen silences that must come at last 
between us, write a book that should lie in your world like 
a seed, and at last, as your own being ripened, flower into 
living understanding by your side. 

This book, which before had been only an idea for a 
book, competing against many other ideas and the de- 

10 



MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 

mands of that toilsome work for peace and understanding 
to which I have devoted the daily energies of my life, 
had become, I felt, an imperative necessity between us. 



3 

And then there happened one of those crises of dread 
and apprehension and pain that are like a ploughing of 
the heart. It was brought home to me that you might 
die even before the first pages of this book of yours were 
written. You became feverish, complained of that queer 
pain you had felt twice before, and for the third time you 
were ill with appendicitis. Your mother and I came and 
regarded your touzled head and flushed little face on the 
pillow as you slept uneasily, and decided that we must 
take no more risks with you. So soon as your temperature 
had fallen again we set about the business of an operation. 

We told each other that nowadays these operations 
were as safe as going to sleep in your bed, but we knew 
better. Our own doctor had lost his son. "That," we 
said, "was different." But we knew well enough in our 
hearts that you were going very near to the edge of death, 
nearer than you had ever been since first you came 
clucking into the world. 

The operation was done at home. A capable, fair- 
complexioned nurse took possession of us; and my study, 
because it has the best light, was transfigured into an 
admirable operating-room. All its furnishings were sent 
away, every cloth and curtain, and the walls and floor 
were covered with white sterilized sheets. The high 
little mechanical table they erected before the window 

ii 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

seemed to me like an altar on which I had to offer up my 
son, There were basins of disinfectants and towels con- 
veniently about, the operator came, took out his array 
of scalpels and forceps and little sponges from the black 
bag he carried, put them ready for his hand, and then 
covered them from your sight ; with a white cloth, and I 
brought you down in my arms, wrapped in a blanket, from 
your bedroom to the anaesthetist. You were beautifully 
trustful and submissive and unafraid. I stood by you 
until the chloroform had done its work, and then left you 
there, lest my presence should in the slightest degree 
embarrass the surgeon. The anaesthetic had taken all the 
color out of your face, and you looked pinched and shrunken 
and greenish and very small and pitiful. I went into the 
drawing-room and stood there with your mother and 
made conversation. I cannot recall what we said, I 
think it was about the moorland to which we were going 
for your convalescence. Indeed, we were but the ghosts 
of ourselves; all our substance seemed listening, listening 
to the little sounds that came to us from the study. 

Then after long ages there was a going to and fro of 
feet, a bump, the opening of a door, and our own doctor 
came into the room rubbing his hands together and doing 
nothing to conceal his profound relief. "Admirable," he 
said, "altogether successful." f I went up to you and saw 
a tumbled little person in the bed, still heavily insensible 
and moaning slightly. By the table were bloody towels, 
and in a shallow glass tray was a small object like a 
damaged piece of earthworm. "Not a bit too soon," said 
the surgeon, holding this up in his forceps for my inspec- 
tion. " It's on the very verge of perforation." I affected 
a detached and scientific interest, but the prevailing 

12 



MR. STRATTON TO HIS SON 

impression in my mind was that this was a fragment from 
very nearly the centre of your being. 

He took it away with him, I know not whither. Per- 
haps it is now in spirits in a specimen jar, an example to 
all medical students of what to avoid in an appendix; 
perhaps it was stained and frozen, and microtomized into 
transparent sections as they do such things, and mounted 
on glass slips and distributed about the world for curious 
histologists to wreak their eyes upon. For a time you lay 
uneasily still and then woke up to pain. Even then you 
got a fresh purchase on my heart. It has always been our 
custom to discourage weeping and outcries, and you did 
not forget your training. "I shan't mind so much, 
dadda," you remarked to me, "if I may yelp." So for a 
day, by special concession, you yelped, and then the sting 
of those fresh wounds departed. 

Within a fortnight, so quickly does an aseptic wound 
heal up again, you were running about in the sun, and 
I had come back, as one comes back to a thing forgotten, 
to the first beginnings of this chapter on my desk. But 
for a time I could not go on working at it because of the 
fear I had felt, and it is only now in June, in this house 
in France to which we have come for the summer, with 
you more flagrantly healthy than I have ever known you 
before, that my heart creeps out of its hole again, and I 
can go on with my story. 

2 



CHAPTER THE SECOND 
BOYHOOD 



I WAS a Harbury boy as my father and grandfather 
were before me and as you are presently to be. I went 
to Harbury at the age of fourteen. Until then I was 
educated at home, first by a governess and then by my 
father's curate, Mr. Siddons, who went from us to St. 
Philip's in Hampstead, and, succeeding marvellously 
there, is now Bishop of Exminster. My father became 
rector of Burnmore when I was nine; my mother had 
been dead four years, and my second cousin, Jane Stratton, 
was already his housekeeper. My father held the living 
until his resignation when I was nearly thirty. So that 
all the most impressionable years of my life centre upon 
the Burnmore rectory and the easy spaciousness of Burn- 
more Park* My boyhood and adolescence alternated be- 
tween the ivied red-brick and ancient traditions of Har- 
bury (and afterwards Christ-church) and that still un- 
troubled countryside. 

I was never a town dweller until I married and we 
took our present house in Holland Park. I went into 
London at last as one goes into an arena. It cramps 
me and wearies me and at times nearly overwhelms me, 

14 



BOYHOOD 

but there it is that the life of men centres and my work 
lies. But every summer we do as we have done this 
year and go to some house in the country, near to forests 
or moorland or suchlike open and uncultivated country, 
where one may have the refreshment of freedom among 
natural and unhurried things. This year we are in a 
walled garden upon the Seine, about four miles above 
Chateau Galliard, and with the forest reaching up to the 
paddock beyond the orchard close. . . . 

You will understand better when I have told you my 
story why I saw Burnmore for the last time when I was 
one-and-twenty and why my memories of it shine so 
crystalline clear. I have a thousand vivid miniatures 
of it in my mind and all of them are beautiful to me, so 
that I could quite easily write a whole book of land- 
scapes from the Park alone. I can still recall quite vividly 
the warm beauty-soaked sensation of going out into the 
morning sunshine of the Park, with my lunch in a little 
green Swiss tin under my arm and the vast interminable 
day all before me, the gigantic, divinely unconditional day 
that only boyhood knows, and the Park so great and 
various that it was more than two hours' going for me to 
reach its eastern fences. I was only a little older then 
than you are now. Sometimes I went right up through 
the woods to the house to companion with Philip and Guy 
Christian and their sister I loved her then, and one day 
I was to love her with all my heart but in those boyish 
times I liked most to go alone. 

My memories of the Park are all under blue sky and 
sunshine, with just a thunderstorm or so; on wet days 
and cold days I was kept to closer limits; and it seems to 
me now rather an intellectual conviction than a positive 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

memory that save for a few pine-clad patches in the 
extreme south-east, its soil was all thick clay. That 
meant for me only beautiful green marshes, a number of 
vividly interesting meres upon the course of its stream, 
and a wealth of gigantic oaks. The meres lay at various 
levels, and the hand of Lady Ladislaw had assisted nature 
in their enrichment with lilies and water plants. There 
were places of sedge and scented rush, amidst which were 
sapphire mists of forget-me-not for long stretches, skir- 
mishing commandoes of yellow iris and wide wastes of 
floating water-lilies. The gardens passed insensibly into 
the Park, and beyond the house were broad stretches of 
grass, sun-lit, barred with the deep-green shadows of great 
trees, and animated with groups and lines of fallow deer. 
Near the house was an Italianate garden, with balustrad- 
ings and statuary, and a great wealth of roses and flower- 
ing shrubs. 

Then there were bracken wildernesses in which the 
does lurked with the young fawns, and a hollow, shallow 
and wide, with the turf greatly attacked by rabbits, and 
exceptionally threadbare, where a stricken oak, lightning- 
stripped, spread out its ghastly arms above contorted 
rotting branches and the mysterious skeletons of I should 
think five several deer. In the evening-time the woods 
behind this place of bones they were woods of straight- 
growing, rather crowded trees and standing as it were a 
little aloof became even under the wannest sunset grey 
and cold and as if they waited. . . . 

And in the distant corner where the sand was, rose 
suddenly a steep little hill, surmounted by a wild and 
splendid group of pines, through which one looked across 
a vale of cornfields at an ancient town that became 

16 



BOYHOOD 

strange and magical as the sun went down, so that I was 
held gazing at it, and afterwards had to flee the twilight 
across the windy spaces and under the dim and darkling 
trees. It is only now in the distant retrospect that I 
identify that far-off city of wonder, and luminous mist 
with the commonplace little town, through whose narrow 
streets we drove to the railway station. But, of course, 
that is what it must have been. 

There are persons to be found mixed up in those childish 
memories, Lady Ladislaw, tall and gracious, in dresses 
of floating blue or grey, or thin, subtly folding, flowering 
stuffs, Philip and his sister, Guy, the old butler, a multi- 
tude of fainter figures long become nameless and feature- 
less; they are far less vivid in my memory than the fine 
solitudes of the Park itself and the dreams I had there. 

I wonder if you dream as I dreamt. I wonder whether 
indeed I dreamt as now I think I did. Have I, in these 
latter years, given form and substance and a name to 
things as vague in themselves as the urgencies of instinct? 
Did I really go into those woods and waving green places 
as one keeps a tryst, expectant of a fellowship more free 
and delicate and delightful than any I knew. Did I know 
in those days of nymphs and dryads and fauns and all 
those happy soulless beings with which the desire of man's 
heart has animated the wilderness. Once certainly I 
crawled slowly through the tall bracken and at last lay 
still for an interminable while, convinced that so I should 
see those shadows populous with fairies, with green little 
people. How patiently I lay ! But the stems creaked and 
stirred, and my heart would keep on beating like a drum 
in my throat. 

It is incredible that once a furry whispering half -human 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

creature with bright brown eyes came and for a time 
played with me near where the tall ferns foam in a broad 
torrent from between the big chestnuts down to the upper 
mere. That must have been real dreaming, and yet now, 
with all my sanities and scepticisms, I could half believe 
it real. 

2 

You become reserved. Perhaps not exceptionally 
so, but as all children become reserved. Already you 
understand that your heart is very preciously your own. 
You keep it from me and everyone, so much so, so 
justifiably so, that when by virtue of our kindred and 
all that we have in common I get sudden glimpses right 
into your depths, there mixes with the swift spasm of 
love I feel, a dread lest you should catch me, as it were, 
spying into you and that one of us, I know not which, 
should feel ashamed. 

Every child passes into this secret stage; it closes in 
from its first frankness; it carries off the growing jewel of 
its consciousness to hide from all mankind. ... I think 
I can see why this should be so, but I cannot tell why in so 
many cases no jewel is given back again at last, alight, 
ripened, wonderful, glowing with the deep fires of ex- 
perience. I think that is what ought to happen ; it is what 
does happen now with true poets and true artists. Some- 
day I think it will be the life of all normal human souls. 
But usually it does not seem to happen at all. Children 
pass out of a stage open, beautiful, exquisitely simple 
into silences and discretions beneath an imposed and 
artificial life. And they are lost. Out of the finished, 

18 



BOYHOOD 

careful, watchful, restrained and limited man or woman, 
no child emerges again. . . . 

I remember very distinctly how I myself came by im- 
perceptible increments of reservation to withdraw those 
early delicacies of judgments, those original and personal 
standards and appreciations, from sight and expression. 
I can recall specific moments when I perceive now that 
my little childish figure stood, as it were, obstinately and 
with a sense of novelty in a doorway denying the self 
within. 

It was partly, I think, a simple instinct that drew that 
curtain of silences and concealments, it was much more a 
realization that I had no power of lucidity to save the 
words and deeds I sought to make expressive from com- 
plete misunderstanding. But most of all it was the per- 
ception that I was under training and compulsion for ends 
that were all askew and irrelevant to the trend of my imag- 
inations, the quality of my dreams. There was around 
me something unfriendly to this inner world something 
very ready to pass from unfriendliness to acute hostility; 
and if, indeed, I succeeded in giving anything of my inner 
self to others, it was only, as people put it, to give myself 
away. 

My nurses, my governess, my tutor, my father, the 
servants about me, seemed all bent upon imposing an 
artificial personality upon me. Only in a very limited 
sense did they want me. What they wanted was some- 
thing that could be made out of me by extensive sup- 
pressions and additions. They ignored the fact that I 
had been born with a shape of my own; they were re- 
solved I should be pressed into a mould and cast. 

It was not that they wanted outer conformity to cer- 

19 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tain needs and standards that, I think, would be a 
reasonable thing enough to demand but they wanted 
me to subdue my most private thoughts to their ideals, 
My nurses and my governesses would rate me for my 
very feelings, would clamor for gratitude and reproach 
me bitterly for betraying that I did not at some par- 
ticular moment love. 

* (Only yesterday I heard Mademoiselle Potin doing 
that very same thing to you. "It is that you do not 
care, Master Steve. It is that you do not care. You 
do not want to care.") 

They went too far in that invasion of my personal 
life, but I perceive quite clearly the present need for 
most of the process of moulding and subjugation that 
children must undergo. Human society is a new thing 
upon the earth, an invention of the last ten thousand 
years. Man is a creature as yet not freely and instinc- 
tively gregarious; in his more primordial state he must 
have been an animal of very small groups and limited 
associations, an animal rather self-centred and fierce, 
and he is still but imperfectly adapted either morally 
or physically to the wider social life his crowding inter- 
actions force upon him. He still learns speech and com- 
putation and civility and all the devices of this artificially 
extended and continually broadening tribal life with an 
extreme reluctance. He has to be shaped in the interests 
of the species, I admit, to the newer conditions; the grow- 
ing social order must be protected from the keen edge of 
his still savage individuality, and he must be trained in his 
own interests to save himself from the destruction of im- 
possible revolts. But how clumsily is the thing done! 
How we are caught and jammed and pressed and crippled 

20 



BOYHOOD 

into citizenship ! How excessive and crushing is the sup- 
pression, and how inadequate ! 

Every child feels that, even if every child does not 
clearly know it. Every child presently begins to hide 
itself from the confused tyrannies of the social process, 
from the searching inspections and injunctions and in- 
terferences of parent and priest and teacher. 

"I have got to be so," we all say deep down in our- 
selves and more or less distinctly according to the lucidi- 
ties of our minds; "but in my heart I am this." 

And in the outcome we all try to seem at least to be 
so, while an ineffectual rebel struggles passionately, like 
a beast caught in a trap, for ends altogether more deep 
and dangerous, for the rose and the star and the wild- 
fire, for beauty and beautiful things. These, we all 
know in our darkly vital recesses, are the real needs of 
life, the obediences imposed upon us by our crude necessi- 
ties and jostling proximities, mere incidentals on our way 
to those profounder purposes. . . . 

And when I write thus of our selves I mean our bodies 
quite as much as our imaginations ; the two sides of us are 
covered up alike and put alike into disguises and unnatural 
shapes, we are taught and forced to hide them for the same 
reasons, from a fear of ourselves and a fear of the people 
about us. The sense of beauty, the sense of one's body, 
the freedom of thought and of desire and the wonder of 
life, are all interwoven strands. I remember that in the 
Park of Burnmore one great craving I had was to take off 
my clothes there altogether, and bathe in a clear place 
among loosestrife and meadowsweet, and afterwards lie 
wet and naked upon the soft green turf with the sun 
shining upon me. But I thought also that that was a very 

21 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

wicked and shameful craving to have, and I never dared 
give way to it. 

3 

As I think of myself and all these glowing secrecies 
and hidden fancies within, walking along beside old 
Siddons, and half listening to his instructive discourse, 
I see myself as though I was an image of all humanity 
under tuition for the social life. 

I write "old Siddons," for so he seemed to me then. 
In truth he was scarcely a dozen years older than I, and 
the other day when I exchanged salutations with his 
gaitered presence in the Haymarket, on his way I suppose 
to the Athenaeum, it struck me that he it is who is now the 
younger man. But at Burnmore he was eighteen inches 
or more above my head and all the way of school and uni- 
versity beyond me; full of the world they had fitted him 
for and eager to impart its doctrines. He went along in 
his tweeds that were studiously untidy, a Norfolk jacket 
of one clerically-greyish stuff and trousers of another 
somewhat lighter pattern, in thick boots, the collar of his 
calling, and a broad-minded hat, bearing his face heaven- 
ward as he talked, and not so much aware of me as ap- 
preciating the things he was saying. And sometimes he 
was manifestly talking to himself and airing his outlook. 
He carried a walking-stick, a manly, homely, knobby, 
donnish walking-stick. , 

He forced the pace a little, for his legs were long and he 
had acquired the habit of strenuous pedestrianism at 
Oxford with all the other things; he obliged me to go at a 
kind of skipping trot, and he 'preferred the high roads 

22 



BOYHOOD 

towards Wickenham for our walks, because they were 
flatter and there was little traffic upon them in those 
days before the motor car, and we could keep abreast and 
go on talking uninterruptedly. That is to say, he could. 

What talk it was! 

Of all the virtues that the young should have. He 
spoke of courage and how splendid it was to accustom 
oneself not even to feel fear; of truth, and difficult cases 
when one might conceivably injure others by telling the 
truth and so perhaps, perhaps qualify the rigor of one's 
integrity, but how one should never hesitate to injure 
one's own self in that matter. Then in another phase 
he talked of belief and the disagreeableness of dis- 
senters. But here, I remember, there was a discussion. 
I have forgotten how I put the thing, but in some boyish 
phrasing or other I must have thrown out the idea that 
thought is free and beliefs uncontrollable. What of 
conformity, if the truth was that you doubted? "Not 
if you make an effort," I remember him saying, "not if 
you make an effort. I have had my struggles. But if 
you say firmly to yourself, the Church teaches this. If 
you dismiss mere carping and say that." 

"But suppose you can't," I must have urged. 

"You can if you will," he said with a note near en- 
thusiasm. "I have been through all that. I did it. 
I dismissed doubts. I wouldn't listen. I felt, This 
won't do. All this leads nowhere." 

And he it was told me the classic story of that pre- 
sumptuous schoolboy who went to his Head Master and 
declared himself an atheist. There were no dialectics 
but a prompt horse-whipping. "In after life," said 
Mr. Siddons, with unctuous gratification, "he came to 

23 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

recognize that thrashing as the very best thing that 
had ever happened to him. .The kindest thing." 

"Yes," urged the obstinate rebel within me, "but 
the Truth, that fearless insistence on the Truth!" 

I could, however, find nothing effective to say aloud, 
and Siddons prevailed over me. That story made my 
blood boil, it filled me with an anticipatory hatred of 
and hostility to Head Masters, and at the same time 
there was something in it, brutally truer to the condi- 
tions of human association than any argument. 

I do not remember the various steps by which I came 
to be discussing doubts so early in my life. I could not 
have been much more than thirteen when that con- 
versation occurred. I am I think perhaps exceptionally 
unconscious about myself. I find I can recall the sayings 
and even the gestures of other people far more distinctly 
than the things I said and did myself. Even my dreams 
and imaginings are more active than my positive thoughts 
and proceedings. But I was no doubt very much stimulat- 
ed by the literature lying about my home and the gleans 
and echoes of controversies that played like summer 
lightning round and about the horizons of my world. 
Over my head and after I had gone to bed, my father and 
Siddons were talking, my cousin was listening with 
strained apprehensions, there was a new spirit in my 
father's sermons; it was the storm of Huxley-Darwin 
controversies that had at last reached Burnmore. I was an 
intelligent little listener, an eager reader of anything that 
came to hand, Mr. Siddons had a disposition to fight his 
battles over again in his monologues to me ; and after all at 
thirteen one isn't a baby. The small boy of the lower classes 
used in those days to start life for himself long before then. 

24 



BOYHOOD 

How dramatic a phase it was in the history of the 
human mind when science_suddenlv came into the vicar- 
ages, into all the studies and quiet places that had been 
the fastnesses of conviction and our ideals, and denied, 
with all the power of evidence it had been accumulating 
for so long, and so obscurely and inaggressively, with 
fossils and strata, with embryology and comparative 
anatomy, the doctrine of the historical Fall and all the 
current scheme of orthodoxy that was based on that! 
What a quickening shock it must have been in countless 
thousands of educated lives! And my father after a 
toughly honest resistance was won over to Darwinism, 
the idea of Evolution got hold of him, the idea that life 
itself was intolerant of vain repetitions; and he had had 
to "consider his position" in the church. To him as to 
innumerable other honest, middle-aged and comfortable 
men, Darwinism came as a dreadful invitation to go out 
into the wilderness. Over my head and just out of range 
of my ears he was debating that issue with Siddons as a 
foil and my cousin as a horrified antagonist. Slowly he 
was developing his conception of compromise. And mean- 
while he wasn't going out into the wilderness at all, but 
punctually to and fro, along the edge of the lawn by the 
bed of hollyhocks and through the little green door in the 
garden wall, and Across the corner of the churchyard to 
the vestry and the perennial services and sacraments of 
the church. 

But he never talked to me privately of religion. He 
left that for my cousin and Mr. Siddons to do or not to 
do as they felt disposed, and in those silences of his I 
may have found another confirmation of my growing 
feeling that religion was from one point of view a thing 

25 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

somehow remote and unreal, claiming unjustifiable in- 
terventions in the detailed conduct of my life, and from 
another a peculiar concern of my father's and Mr. Siddons', 
to which they went through the vestry, changing into 
strange garments on the way. 



4 

I do not want to leave the impression which my last 
section may have conveyed that at the age of thirteen 
or thereabouts I walked about with Mr. Siddons dis- 
cussing doubt in a candid and intelligent manner and 
maintaining theological positions. That particular con- 
versation, you must imagine with Mr. Siddons somewhat 
monologuing, addressing himself not only to my present 
self, but with an unaccustomed valiance to my absent 
father. What I may have said or not said, whether I did 
indeed dispute or merely and by a kind of accident im- 
plied objections, I have altogether forgotten long ago. 

A boy far more than a man is menially a discontinuous 
being. The drifting chaos of his mind makes its exper- 
imental beginnings at a hundred different points and in a 
hundred different spirits and directions; here he flashes 
into a concrete realization, here into a conviction un- 
consciously incompatible; here is something originally 
conceived, here something uncritically accepted. I know 
that I criticized Mr. Siddons quite acutely, and disbe- 
lieved in him. I know also that I accepted all sorts of 
suggestions from him quite unhesitatingly and that I did 
my utmost to satisfy his standards and realize his ideals 

of me. 

26 



BOYHOOD 

Like an outer casing to that primordial creature of 
senses and dreams which came to the surface in the 
solitudes . of the Park was my Siddonsesque self, a high- 
minded and clean and brave English boy, conscientiously 
loyal to queen and country, athletic and a good sports- 
man and acutely alive to good and bad "form." Mr. 
Siddons made me aware of my clothed self as a visible 
object, I surveyed my garmented being in mirrors and 
was trained to feel the "awfulness" of various other 
small boys who appeared transitorily in the smaller Park 
when Lady Ladislaw extended her wide hospitality to 
certain benevolent London associations. Their ill-fitting 
clothing, their undisciplined outcries, their slouching, 
their bad throwing and defective aspirates wire made mat- 
ters for detestation in my plastic mind. Those things, 
I was assured, placed them outside the pale of any common 
humanity. 

"Very unfortunate and all that," said Mr. Siddons, 
"and uncommonly good of Lady Ladislaw to have them 
down. But dirty little cads, Stephen, dirty little cads; 
so don't go near 'em if you can help it." 

They played an indecent sort of cricket with coats 
instead of a wicket! 

Mr. Siddons was very grave about games and the 
strict ritual and proper apparatus for games. He be- 
lieved that Waterloo was won by the indirect influence 
of public school cricket disregarding many other con- 
tributory factors. We did not play very much, but we 
"practised" sedulously at a net in the paddock with the 
gardener and the doctor's almost grown-up sons. I 
thought missing a possible catch was an impropriety. 
I studiously maintained the correct attitude, alert and 

27 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

elastic, while I was fielding. Moreover I had a shameful 
secret, that I did not really know where a ball ought tc 
pitch. I wasn't clear about it and I did not dare to ask 
Also until I was nearly thirteen I couldn't bowl overarm, 
Such is the enduring force of early suggestion, my deal 
son, that I feel a faint twinge of shame as I set this down 
for your humiliated eyes. But so it was. May you be 
more precocious! 

Then I was induced to believe that I really liked hunt- 
ing and killing things. In the depths of my being I was 
a gentle and primitive savage towards animals; I believed 
they were as subtle and wise as myself and full of a magic 
of their own, but Mr. Siddons nevertheless got me out 
into the south Warren, where I had often watched the 
rabbits setting their silly cock-eared sentinels and lollop- 
ing out to feed about sundown, and beguiled me into 
shooting a furry little fellow-creature I can still see its 
eyelid quiver as it died and carrying it home in triumph. 
On another occasion I remember I was worked up into a 
ferocious excitement about the rats in the old barn. 
We went ratting, just as though I was Tom Brown or 
Harry East or any other of the beastly little models of 
cant and cruelty we English boys were trained to imitate. 
It was great sport. It was a tremendous spree. The 
distracted movements, the scampering and pawing of the 
little pink forefeet of one squawking little fugitive, that I 
hit with a stick and then beat to a shapeless bag of fur, 
haunted my dreams for years, and then I saw the bowels 
of another still living victim that had been torn open by 
one of the terriers, and abruptly I fled out into the yard 
and was violently sick; the best of the fun was over so far 
as I was concerned. 

28 



BOYHOOD 

My cousin saved me from the uttermost shame of my 
failure by saying that I had been excited too soon after 
my dinner. . . . 

And also I collected stamps and birds' eggs. 

Mr. Siddons hypnotized me into believing that I really 
wanted these things; he gave me an egg-cabinet for a birth- 
day present and told me exemplary stories of the wonderful 
collections other boys had made. My own natural dis- 
position to watch nests and establish heaven knows what 
friendly intimacy with the birds perhaps I dreamt their 
mother might let me help to feed the young ones gave 
place to a feverish artful hunting, a clutch, and then, 
detestable process, the blowing of the egg. Of course we 
were very humane; we never took the nest, but just 
frightened off the sitting bird and grabbed a warm egg or 
so. And the poor perforated, rather damaged little egg- 
shells accumulated in the drawers, against the wished-for 
but never actually realized day of glory when we should 
meet another collector who wouldn't have something 
that we had. So far as it was for anything and not mere 
imbecile imitativeness, it was for that. 

And writing thus of eggs reminds me that I. got into a 
row with Mr. Siddons for cruelty. 

I discovered there was the nest of a little tit in a hole 
between two stones in the rock bank that bordered the 
lawn. I found it out when I was sitting on the garden 
seat near by, learning Latin irregular verbs. I saw the 
minute preposterous round birds going and coming, and 
I found something so absurdly amiable and confiding 
about them they sat balancing and oscillating on a 
standard rose and cheeped at me to go and then dived 
nestward and gave away their secret out of sheer impa- 
3 29 



TIJE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tience that I could not bring myself to explore further, I 
and kept the matter altogether secret from the enthusiasm 
of Mr. Siddons. And in a few days there were no more 
eggs and I could hear the hungry little nestlings making 
the minutest of fairy hullabaloos, the very finest spun silk 
of sound; a tremendous traffic in victual began and I was 
the trusted friend of the family. 

Then one morning I was filled with amazement and 
anguish. There was a rock torn down and lying in the 
path ; a paw had gone up to that little warm place. Across 
the gravel, shreds of the nest and a wisp or so of down were 
scattered. I could imagine the brief horrors of that night 
attack. I started off, picking up stones as I went, to 
murder that sandy devil, the stable cat. I got her once 
alas! that I am still glad to think of it and just missed 
her as she flashed, a ginger streak, through the gate into 
the paddock. 

"Now Steve! Now!" came Mr. Siddons' voice behind 
me. . . . 

How can one explain things of that sort to a man like 
Siddons? I took my lecture on the Utter Caddishness of 
Wanton Cruelty in a black rebellious silence. The affair 
and my own emotions were not only far beyond my powers 
of explanation, but far beyond my power of understanding. 
Just then my soul was in shapeless and aimless revolt 
against something greater and higher and deeper and 
darker than Siddons, and his reproaches were no more 
than the chattering of a squirrel while a storm uproots 
great trees. I wanted to kill the cat. I wanted to kill 
whatever had made that cat. 



BOYHOOD 

5 

Mr. Siddons it was who first planted the conception 
of Life as a Career in my mind. 

In those talks that did so much towards shaping me 
into the likeness of a modest, reserved, sporting, seemly, 
clean and brave, patriotic and decently slangy young 
Englishman, he was constantly reverting to that view 
of existence. He spoke of failures and successes, talked 
of statesmen and administrators, peerages and West- 
minster Abbey. "Nelson/ 1 he said, "was once a clergy- 
man's son like you." 

"England has been made by the sons of the clergy." 

He talked of the things that led to failure and the 
things that had made men prominent and famous. 

"Discursiveness ruins a man," I remember him saying. 
"Choose your goal and press to it." 

"Never do anything needlessly odd. It's a sort of 
impertinence to all the endless leaders of the past who 
created our traditions. Do not commit yourself hastily 
to opinions, but once you have done so, stick to them. 
The world would far rather have a firm man wrong, than 
a weak man hesitatingly right. Stick to them." 

"One has to remember," I recall him meditating, far 
over my head with his face upturned, "that Institutions 
are more important than Views. Very often one adopts 
a View only to express one's belief in an Institution. . . . 
Men can do with almost all sorts of Views, but only with 
certain Institutions. All this Doubt doesn't touch a 
truth like that. One does not refuse to live in a house 
because of the old symbols one finds upon the door. . . . 
If they are old symbols. . . ." 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Out of such private contemplations he would descend 
suddenly upon me. 

"What are you going to do with your life, Steve?" 
he would ask. 

"There is no happiness in life without some form of 
service. Where do you mean to serve? With your bent 
for science and natural history, it wouldn't be difficult 
for you to get into the I.C.S. I doubt if you'd do any- 
thing at the law; it's a rough game, Steve, though the 
prizes are big. Big prizes the lawyers get. , I've known 
a man in the Privy Council under forty and that without 
anything much in the way of a family. . . . But always 
one must concentrate. The one thing England will not 
stand is a loafer, a wool-gatherer, a man who goes about 
musing and half -awake. It's our energy. We're western. 
It's that has made us all we are." 

I knew whither that pointed. Never so far as I can 
remember did Mr. Siddons criticize either myself or my 
father directly, but I understood with the utmost clear- 
ness that he found my father indolent and hesitating, 
and myself more than a little bit of a mollycoddle, and 
in urgent need of pulling together. 

6 

Harbury went on with that process of suppressing, 
encrusting, hardening, and bracing-up which Mr. Siddons 
had begun. For a time I pulled myself together very 
thoroughly. I am not ungrateful nor unfaithful to 
Harbury; in your turn you will go there, you will have 
to live your life in this British world of ours and you must 
learn its language and manners, acquire its reserves and 

32 



BOYHOOD 

, develop the approved toughness and patterning of cuticle. 
Afterwards if you please you may quarrel with it. But 
don't when the time comes quarrel with the present condi- 
tions of human association and think it is only with Har- 
bury you quarrel. What man has become and may be- 
come beneath the masks and impositions of civilization, 
in his intimate texture and in the depths of his being, I 
begin now in my middle age to appreciate. No longer 
is he an instinctive savage but a creature of almost incred- 
ible variability and wonderful new possibilities. Marvels 
undreamt of, power still inconceivable, an empire beyond 
the uttermost stars; such is man's inheritance. But for 
the present, until we get a mastery of those vague and 
mighty intimations at once so perplexing and so reassur- 
ing, if we are to live at all in the multitudinousness of 
human society we must submit to some scheme of clumsy 
compromises and conventions or other, and for us 
Strattons the Harbury system is the most convenient. 
You will have to go to the old school. 

I went to Rendle's. I just missed getting into college; 
I was two places below the lowest successful boy. I was 
Maxton's fag to begin with, and my chief chum was 
Raymond, who is your friend also, and who comes so 
often to this house. I preferred water to land, boats to 
cricket, because of that difficulty about pitch I have 
already mentioned. But I was no great sportsman. 
Raymond and I shared a boat, and spent most of the time 
we gave to it under the big trees near Dartpool Lock, 
reading or talking. We would pull up to Sandy Hall 
perhaps once a week. I never rowed in any of the eights, 
though I was urged to do so. I swam fairly well, and got 
my colors on the strength of my diving. 

33 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

On the whole I found Harbury a satisfactory and 
amusing place, I was neither bullied nor do I think I 
greatly bullied, and of all that furtive and puerile lascivi- 
ousness of which one hears so many hints nowadays 
excitable people talk of it as though it was the most 
monstrous and singular of vices instead of a slightly 
debasing but almost unavoidable and very obvious result 
of heaping boys together under the inefficient control of a 
timid pretentious class of men of such uncleanness as I 
say, scarcely more than a glimpse and a whisper and a 
vague tentative talk or so reached me. Little more will 
reach you, for that kind of thing, like the hells of Sweden- 
borg, finds its own. 

I had already developed my growing instinct for ob- 
servance to a very considerable extent under Siddons, and 
at Harbury I remember myself, and people remember 
me, as an almost stiffly correct youth. I was pretty good 
at most of the work, and exceptionally so at history, 
geology, and the biological side of natural science. I had 
to restrain my interest in these latter subjects lest I 
should appear to be a "swat," and a modern-side swat 
at that. I was early in the sixth, and rather a favorite 
with old Latimer. He incited me to exercise what he 
called a wholesome influence on the younger boys, and I 
succeeded in doing this fairly well without any gross in- 
terventions. I implied rather than professed soundly 
orthodox views about things in general, and I was ex- 
tremely careful to tilt my straw hat forward over my 
nose so as just not to expose the crown of my head behind, 
and to turn up my trousers with exactly that width of 
margin which the judgment of my fellow-creatures had 
decided was correct. My socks were spirited without be- 

34 



BOYHOOD 

ing vulgar, and the ties I wore were tied with a studious 
avoidance of either slovenliness or priggish neatness. I 
wrote two articles in the Harburonian, became something 
of a debater in the Literary and Political, conducted many 
long conversations with my senior contemporaries upon 
religion, politics, sport and social life, and concealed my 
inmost thoughts from every human being. Indeed, so 
effective had been the training of Harbury and Mr. 
Siddons, that I think at that time I came very near coiv 
cealing them from myself. I could suppress wonder, I 
could pass by beauty as if I did not see it, almost I think 
I did not see it for a time, and yet I remember it in those 
years too a hundred beautiful things. 

Harbury itself is a very beautiful place. The country 
about it has all the charm of river scenery in a settled and 
ancient land, and the great castle and piled town of 
Wetmore, cliffs of battlemented grey wall rising above 
a dense cluster of red roofs, form the background to in- 
numerable gracious prospects of great stream-fed trees, 
level meadows of buttercups, sweeping curves of osier and 
rush-rimmed river, the playing fields and the sedgy, lily- 
spangled levels of Avonlea. The college itself is mostly 
late Tudor and Stuart brickwork, very ripe and mellow 
now, but the great grey chapel with its glorious east 
window floats over the whole like a voice singing in the 
evening. And the evening cloudscapes of Harbury are 
a perpetual succession of glorious effects, now serene, now 
mysteriously threatening and profound, now towering to 
incredible heights, now revealing undreamt-of distances 
of luminous color. Assuredly I must have delighted in 
all those aspects, or why should I remember them so 
well? But I recall, I mean, no confessed recognition of 

35 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

them; no deliberate going-out of my spirit, open and 
unashamed, to such things. 

I suppose one's early adolescence is necessarily the 
period of maximum shyness in one's life. Even to 
Raymond I attempted no extremities of confidence. 
Even to myself I tried to be the thing that was expected 
of me. I professed a modest desire for temperate and 
tolerable achievement in life, though deep in my lost 
depths I wanted passionately to excel; I worked hard, 
much harder than I allowed to appear, and I said I did 
it for the credit of the school; I affected a dignified 
loyalty to queen and country and church ; I pretended a 
stoical disdain for appetites and delights and all the arts, 
though now and then a chance fragment of poetry would 
light me like a fire, or a lovely picture stir unwonted 
urgencies, though visions of delight haunted the shadows 
of my imagination and did not always fly when I regarded 
them. But on the other hand I affected an interest in 
games that I was far from feeling. Of some boys I was 
violently jealous, and this also I masked beneath a 
generous appreciation. Certain popularities I applauded 
while I doubted. Whatever my intimate motives I 
became less and less disposed to obey them until I had 
translated them into a plausible rendering of the accepted 
code. If I could not so translate them I found it wise 
to control them. When I wanted urgently one summer 
to wander by night over the hills towards Kestering and 
lie upon heather and look up at the stars and wonder 
about them, I cast about and at last hit upon the well- 
known and approved sport of treacling for moths, as a 
cloak for so strange an indulgence. 

I must have known even then what a mask and front 

36 



BOYHOOD 

I was, because I knew quite well how things were with 
other people. I listened politely and respected and 
understood the admirable explanations of my friends. 
When some fellow got a scholarship unexpectedly and 
declared it was rotten bad luck on the other chap, seeing 
the papers he had done, and doubted whether he shouldn't 
resign, I had an intuitive knowledge that he wouldn't 
resign, and I do not remember any time in my career as 
the respectful listener to Mr. Siddons* aspirations for 
service and devotion, when I did not perceive quite clearly 
his undeviating eye upon a bishopric. He thought of 
gaiters though he talked of wings. 

How firmly the bonds of an old relationship can hold 
one ! I remember when a few years ago he reached that 
toiled-for goal, I wrote in a tone of gratified surprise 
that in this blatant age, such disinterested effort as his 
should receive even so belated a recognition. Yet what 
else was there for me to write? We all have our Sid- 
donses, with whom there are no alternatives but insin- 
cerity or a disproportionate destructiveness. I am still 
largely Siddonsized, little son, and so, I fear, you will have 
to be. 

7 

The clue to all the perplexities of law and custom lies 
in this, that human association is an artificiality. We 
do not run together naturally and easily as grazing deer 
do or feeding starlings or a shoal of fish. We are a sort 
of creature which is only resuming association after a long 
heredity of extreme separation. We are beings strongly 
individualized, we are dominated by that passion which is 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

no more and no less than individuality in action, : 
jealousy. Jealousy is a fierce insistence on ourselves, an 
instinctive intolerance of our fellow-creatures, ranging 
between an insatiable aggression as its buoyant phas 
and a savage defensiveness when it is touched by fear. 
In our expansive moments we want to dominate and 
control everyone and destroy every unlikeness to our- 
selves; in our recessive phases our homes are our castles 
and we want to be let alone. 

Now all law, all social order, all custom, is a patch- 
up and a concession to this separating passion of self- 
insistence. It is an evasion of conflict and social death. 
Human society is as yet only a truce and not an alliance. 

When you understand that, you will begin to under- 
stand a thousand perplexing things in legislation and social 
life: You will understand the necessity of all those 
restrictions that are called "conventionality/* and the 
inevitableness of the general hostility to singularity. To 
be exceptional is to assert a difference, to disregard the 
banked-up forces of jealousy and break the essential 
conditions of the social contract. It invites either re- 
sentment or aggression. So we all wear much the same 
clothing, affect modesty, use the same phrases, respect 
one another's " rights," and pretend a greater disin- 
terestedness than we feel. . . . 

You have to face this reality as you must face all 
reality. This is the reality of laws and government; 
this is the reality of customs and institutions ; a convention 
between jealousies. This is reality, just as the cat's way 
with the nestlings was reality, and the squealing rat 
one smashed in a paroxysm of cruelty and disgust in the 
barn. 

38 



BOYHOOD 

But it isn't the only reality. Equally real is the 
passionate revolt of my heart against cruelty, and the 
deep fluctuating impulse not to pretend, to set aside fear 
and jealousy, to come nakedly out of the compromises and 
secretive methods of every-day living into the light, into 
a wide impersonal love, into a new way of living for man- 
kind. . . o 






CHAPTER THE THIRD 
INTENTIONS AND THE LADY MARY CHRISTIAN 



I KNOW that before the end of my Harbury days I was 
1 already dreaming of a Career, of some great and con- 
spicuous usefulness in the world. That has always 
haunted my mind and haunts it now. I may be cured 
perhaps of the large and showy anticipations of youth, 
I may have learnt to drop the " great and conspicuous/' 
but still I find it necessary to believe that I matter, that 
I play a part no one else can play in a progress, in a uni- 
versal scheme moving towards triumphant ends. 

Almost wholly I think I was dreaming of public service 
in those days. The Harbury tradition pointed stead- 
fastly towards the state, and all my world was bare of 
allurements to any other type of ambition. Success in 
art or literature did not appeal to us, and a Harbury boy 
would as soon think of being a great tinker as a great 
philosopher. Science we called " stinks "; our three 
science masters were ex officio ridiculous and the practical 
laboratory a refuge for oddities. But a good half of our 
fathers at least were peers or members of parliament, 
and our sense of politics was close and keen. History, 
and particularly history as it came up through the c :ry h- 

40 



INTENTIONS 

teenth century to our own times, supplied us with a gallery 
of intimate models, our great uncles and grandfathers and 
ancestors at large figured abundantly in the story and 
furnished the pattern to which we cut our anticipations 
of life. It was a season of Imperialism, the picturesque 
Imperialism of the earlier Kipling phase, and we were all 
of us enthusiasts for the Empire. It was the empire of 
the White Man's Burthen in those days; the sordid anti- 
climax of the Tariff Reform Movement was still some years 
ahead of us. It was easier for us at Harbury to believe 
then than it has become since, in our own racial and 
national and class supremacy. We were the Anglo- 
Saxons, the elect of the earth, leading the world in social 
organization, in science and economic method. In 
India and the east more particularly we were the apostles 
of even-handed justice, relentless veracity, personal clean- 
liness, and modern efficiency. In a spirit of adventurous 
benevolence we were spreading those blessings over a 
reluctant and occasionally recalcitrant world of people 
for the most part " colored.'* Our success in this had 
aroused the bitter envy and rivalry of various continental 
nations, and particularly of France, Russia, and Germany. 
But France had been diverted to North Africa, Russia 
to Eastern Asia, and Germany was already the most 
considered antagonist in our path towards an empire 
over the world. 

This was the spacious and by no means ignoble project 
of the later nineties. Most of us Harbury boys, trained 
as I had been trained to be uncritical, saw the national 
outlook in those terms. We knew little or nothing, until 
. the fierce wranglings of the Free Traders and Tariff Re- 
formers a few years later brought it home to us, of the com- 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

mercial, financial and squalid side of our relations with the 
vast congeries of exploited new territories and subor- 
dinated and subjugated populations. We knew nothing 
of the social conditions of the mass of people in our own 
country. We were blankly ignorant of economics. We 
knew nothing of that process of expropriation and the 
exploitation of labor which is giving the world the Servile 
State. The very phrase was twenty years ahead of us. 
We believed that an Englishman was a better thing in 
every way than any other sort of man, that English 
literature, science and philosophy were a shining and un- 
approachable light to all other peoples, that our soldiers 
were better than all other soldiers and our sailors than all 
other sailors. Such civilization and enterprise as existed 
in Germany for instance we regarded as a shadow, an 
envious shadow, following our own; it was still generally 
believed in those days that German trade was concerned 
entirely with the dishonest imitation of our unapproach- 
able English goods. And as for the United States, well, 
the United States though blessed with a strain of English 
blood, were nevertheless "out of it," marooned in a con- 
tinent of their own and we had to admit it corrupt. 

Given such ignorance, you know, it wasn't by any 
means ignoble to be patriotic, to dream of this propa- 
gandist Empire of ours spreading its great peace and 
culture, its virtue and its amazing and unprecedented 
honesty, its honesty! round the world. 



When I look and try to recover those early inten- 
tions of mine I am astonished at the way in which I 

42 



INTENTIONS 

took them ready-made from the world immediately about 
me. In some way I seem to have stopped looking if 
ever I had begun looking at the heights and depths 
above and below that immediate life. I seem to have 
regarded these profounder realities no more during this 
phase of concentration than a cow in a field regards the 
sky. My father's vestments, the Burnmore altar, the 
Harbury pulpit and Mr. Siddons, stood between me and 
the idea of God, so that it needed years and much bitter 
disillusionment before I discovered my need of it. And 
I was as wanting in subtlety as in depth. We did no logic 
nor philosophy at Harbury, and at Oxford it was not so 
much thought we came to deal with as a mistranslation 
and vulgarization of ancient and alien exercises in think- 
ing. There is no such effective serum against philosophy 
as the scholarly decoction of a dead philosopher. The 
philosophical teaching of Oxford at the end of the last 
century was not so much teaching as a protective inocu- 
lation. The stuff was administered with a mysterious 
gilding of Greek and reverence, old Hegel's monstrous 
web was the ultimate modernity, and Plato, that intel- 
lectual journalist-artist, that bright, restless experi- 
mentalist in ideas, was as it were the God of Wisdom, 
only a little less omniscient (and on the whole more of a 
scholar and a gentleman) than the God of fact. . . . 

So I fell back upon the empire in my first attempts 
to unify my life. I would serve the empire. That 
should be my total significance. There was a Roman 
touch, I perceive, in this devotion. Just how or where 
I should serve the empire I had not as yet determined. 
At times I thought of the civil service, in my more am- 
bitious moments I turned my thoughts to politics. But 

43 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

it was doubtful whether my private expectations made the 
last a reasonable possibility. 
I would serve the empire. 



And all the while that the first attempts to consoli- 
date, to gather one's life together into a purpose and a 
plan of campaign, are going on upon the field of the young 
man's life, there come and go and come again in the sky 
above him the threatening clouds, the ethereal cirrus, 
the red dawns and glowing afternoons of that passion of 
love which is the source and renewal of being. There are 
times when that solicitude matters no more than a spring- 
time sky to a runner who wins towards the post, there are 
times when its passionate urgency dominates every fact 
in his world. 

4 

One must have children and love them passionately 
before one realizes the deep indignity of accident in life. 
It is not that I mind so much when unexpected and dis- 
concerting things happen to you or your sisters, but that 
I mind before they happen. My dreams and anticipations 
of your lives are all marred by my sense of the huge im- 
portance mere chance encounters and incalculable necessi- 
ties will play in them. And in friendship and still more 
here, in this central business of love, accident rules it 
seems to me almost altogether. What personalities you 
will encounter in life, and have for a chief interest in life, 
is nearly as much a matter of chance as the drift of a grain 

44 



INTENTIONS 

of pollen in the pine forest. And once the light hazard has 
blown it has blown, never to drive again. In other 
schoolrooms and nurseries, in slum living-rooms perhaps or 
workhouse wards or palaces, round the other side of the 
earth, in Canada or Russia or China, other little creatures 
are trying their small limbs, clutching at things about them 
with infantile hands, who someday will come into your 
life with a power and magic monstrous and irrational and 
irresistible. They will break the limits of your concen- 
trating self, call you out to the service of beauty and the 
service of the race, sound you to your highest and your 
lowest, give you your chance to be godlike or filthy, 
divme or utterly ignoble, react together with you upon 
the very core and essence of your being. These unknowns 
are the substance of your fate. You will in extreme in- 
timacy love them, hate them, serve them, struggle with 
them, and in that interaction the vital force in you and 
the substance of your days will be spent. 

And who they may chance to be and their peculiar 
quality and effect is haphazard, utterly beyond designing. 

Law and custom conspire with the natural circum- 
stances of man to exaggerate every consequence of this 
accumulating accident, and make it definite and fatal. . . . 

I find it quite impossible now to recall the steps and 
stages by which this power of sex invaded my life. It 
seems to me now that it began very much as a gale begins, 
in catspaws upon the water and little rustlings among the 
leaves, and then stillness and then a distant soughing 
again and a pause, and then a wider and longer disturb- 
ance and so more and more, with a gathering continuity, 
until at last the stars were hidden, the heavens were hidden; 
all the heights and depths of life were obscured by stormy 
4 45 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

impulses and passionate desires. I suppose that quite 
at the first there were simple curiosities; no doubt they 
were vivid at the time but they have left scarcely a trace; 
there were vague first intimations of a peculiar excite- 
ment. I do remember more distinctly phases when there 
was a going-out from myself towards these things, these 
interests, and then a reaction of shame and concealment. 

And these memories were mixed up with others not 
sexual at all, and particularly with the perception of beauty 
in things inanimate, with lights seen at twilight and the 
tender mysteriousness of the dusk and the confused dis- 
turbing scents of flowers in the evening and the enigmatical 
serene animation of stars in the summer sky. . . . 

I think perhaps that my boyhood was exceptionally 
free from vulgarizing influences in this direction. There 
were few novels in my father's house and I neither saw nor 
read any plays until I was near manhood, so that I 
thought naturally about love and not rather artificially 
round and about love as so many imaginative young people 
are trained to do. I fell in love once or twice while I was 
still quite a boy. These earliest experiences rarely got 
beyond a sort of dumb awe, a vague, vast, ineffectual 
desire for self-immolation. For a time I remember I 
worshipped Lady Ladislaw with all my being. Then I 
talked to a girl in a train I forget upon what journey 
but I remember very vividly her quick color and a certain 
roguish smile. I spread my adoration at her feet, fresh 
and frank. I wanted to write to her. Indeed I wanted 
to devote all my being to her. I begged hard, but there 
was someone called Auntie who had to be considered, an 
Atropos for that thread of romance. 

Then there was a photograph in my father's study of 

46 



INTENTIONS 

the Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel, that for a time 
held my heart, and Yes, there was a girl an a tobacco- 
nist's shop in the Harbury High Street. Drawn by an 
irresistible impulse I used to go and buy cigarettes and 
sometimes converse about the weather. But afterwards 
in solitude I would meditate tremendous conversations 
and encounters with her. The cigarettes increased the 
natural melancholy of my state and led to a reproof , from 
old Henson. Almost always I suppose there is that girl 
in the tobacconist's shop. . . . 

I believe if I made an effort I could disinter some dozens 
of such memories, more and more faded until the marginal 
ones would be featureless and all but altogether effaced. 
As I look back at it now I am struck by an absurd image; 
it is as if a fish nibbled at this bait and then at that. 

Given but the slightest aid from accidental circum- 
stances and any of those slight attractions might have 
become a power to deflect all my life. 

The day of decision arrived when the Lady Mary 
Christian came smiling out of the sunshine to me into 
the pavilion at Burnmore. With that the phase of stir- 
rings and intimations was over for ever in my life. All 
those other impressions went then to the dusty lumber 
room from which I now so slightingly disinter them. 



We five had all been playmates together. There 
were Lord Maxton, who was killed at Paardeberg while 
I was in Ladysmith, he was my senior by nearly a year, 
Philip, who is now Earl Ladislaw and who was about 

47 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

eighteen months younger than I, Mary, my contem- 
porary within eight days, and Guy, whom we regarded 
as a baby and who was called, apparently on account 
of some early linguistic efforts, "Brugglesmith." He 
did his best to avenge his juniority as time passed on 
by an enormous length of limb. I had more imagina- 
tion than Maxton and was a good deal better read, so 
that Mary and I dominated most of the games of Indians 
and warfare and exploration in which we passed our 
long days together. When the Christians were at Bum- 
more, and they usually spent three or four months in the 
year there, I had a kind of standing invitation to be 
with them. Sometimes there would also be two Christian 
cousins to swell our party, and sometimes there would 
be a raid of the Fawney children with a detestable govern- 
ess who was perpetually vociferating reproaches, but these 
latter were absent-minded, lax young persons, and we 
did not greatly love them. 

It is curious how little I remember of Mary's child- 
hood. All that has happened between us since lies be- 
tween that and my present self like some luminous 
impenetrable mist. I know we liked each other, that 
I was taller than she was and thought her legs unreason- 
ably thin, and that once when I knelt by accident on a 
dead stick she had brought into an Indian camp we had 
made near the end of the west shrubbery, she flew at me 
in a sudden fury, smacked my face, scratched me and had 
to be suppressed, and was suppressed with extreme 
difficulty by the united manhood of us three elder boys. 
Then it was I noted first the blazing blueness of her eyes. 
She was light and very plucky, so that none of us cared to 
climb against her, and she was as difficult to hold as an 

48 



INTENTIONS 

eel. But all these traits and characteristics vanished 
when she was transformed. 

For what seems now a long space of time I had not 
seen her or any of the family except Philip; it was cer- 
tainly a year or more, probably two; Maxton was at a 
crammer's and I think the others must have been in 
Canada with Lord Ladislaw. Then came some sort of 
estrangement between him and his wife, and she returned 
with Mary and Guy to Burnmore and stayed there all 
through the summer. 

I was in a state of transition between the infinitely 
great and the infinitely little. I had just ceased to be 
that noble and potent being, that almost statesmanlike 
personage, a sixth form boy at Harbury, and I was going 
to be an Oxford undergraduate. Philip and I came down 
together by the same train from Harbury, I shared the 
Burnmore dog-cart and luggage cart, and he dropped me at 
the rectory. I was a long-limbed youngster of seventeen, 
as tall as I am now, and fair, so fair that I was still boyish- 
faced while most of my contemporaries and Philip (who 
favored his father) were at least smudgy with moustaches. 
With the head-master's valediction and the grave elder- 
brotherliness of old Henson, and the shrill cheers of a 
little crowd of juniors still echoing in my head, I very 
naturally came home in a mood of exalted gravity, and 
I can still remember pacing up and down the oblong lawn 
behind the rockery and the fig-tree wall with my father, 
talking of my outlook with all the tremendous savoir 
faire that was natural to my age, and noting with a secret 
gratification that our shoulders were now on a level. 
No doubt we were discussing Oxford and all that I was 
to do at Oxford; I don't remember a word of our speech 

49 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

though I recall the exact tint of its color and the dis- 
tinctive feeling of our measured equal paces in the sun- 
shine. . . . 

I must have gone up to Burnmore House the following 
afternoon. I went up alone and I was sent out through 
the little door at the end of the big gallery into the garden. 
In those days Lady Ladislaw had made an Indian pavilion 
under the tall trees at the east end of the house, and here 
I found her with her cousin Helena Christian entertaining 
a mixture of people, a carriageful from Hampton End, the 
two elder Fawneys and a man in brown who had I think 
ridden over from Chestoxter Castle. Lady Ladislaw 
welcomed me with ample graciousness as though I was 
a personage. * ' The children ' ' she said were still at tennis, 
and as she spoke I saw Guy, grown nearly beyond recogni- 
tion, and then a shining being in white, very straight and 
graceful, with a big soft hat and overshadowed eyes 
that smiled, come out from the hurried endearments of the 
sunflakes under the shadows of the great chestnuts, into 
the glow of summer light before the pavilion. 

" Steve arrived!" she cried, and waved a welcoming 
racquet. 

I do not remember what I said to her or what else she 
said or what anyone said. But I believe I could paint 
every detail of her effect. I know that when she came out 
of the brightness into the shadow of the pavilion it was like 
a regal condescension, and I know that she was wonder- 
fully self-possessed and helpful with her mother's hos- 
pitalities, and that I, marvelled I had never before per- 
ceived the subtler sweetness in the cadence of her voice. 
I seem also to remember a severe internal struggle for my 
self-possession, and that I had to recall my exalted posi- 



INTENTIONS 

tion in the sixth form to save myself from becoming tongue- 
tied and abashed and awkward and utterly shamed. 

You see she had her hair up and very prettily dressed, 
and those aggressive lean legs of hers had vanished, and 
she was sheathed in muslin that showed her the most 
delicately slender and beautiful of young women. And 
she seemed so radiantly sure of herself! 

After our first greeting I do not think I spoke to her or 
looked at her again throughout the meal. I took things 
that she handed me with an appearance of supreme 
indifference, was politely attentive to the elder Miss 
Fawney, and engaged with Lady Ladislaw and the horsey 
little man in brown in a discussion of the possibility of 
mechanical vehicles upon the high road. That was in the 
early nineties. We were all of opinion that it was im- 
possible to make a sufficiently light engine for the purpose. 
Afterwards Mary confessed to me how she had been 
looking forward to our meeting, and how snubbed I had 
made her feel. . . . 

Then a little later than this meeting in the pavilion, 
though I am not clear now whether it was the same or 
some subsequent afternoon, we are walking in the sunken 
garden, and great clouds of purple clematis and some less 
lavish heliotrope-colored creeper, foam up against the 
ruddy stone balustrading. Just in front of us a fountain 
gushes out of a grotto of artificial stalagmite and bathes 
the pedestal of an absurd little statuette of the God of 
Love. We are talking almost easily. She looks side- 
ways at my face, already with the quiet controlled watch- 
fulness of a woman interested in a man, she smiles and she 
talks of flowers and sunshine, the Canadian winter and 
with an abrupt transition, of old times we've had together 



'HE 



PASSIONATE FRIENDS 



in the shrubbery and the wilderness of bracken out beyond. 
She seems tremendously grown-up and womanly to me. 
I am talking my best, and glad, and in a manner scared at 
the thrill her newly discovered beauty gives me, and 
keeping up my dignity and coherence with an effort. 
My attention is constantly being distracted to note how 
prettily she moves, to wonder why it is I never noticed 
the sweet fall, the faint delightful whisper of a lisp in her 
voice before. 

We agree about the flowers and the sunshine and the 
Canadian winter about everything. "I think so often 
of those games we used to invent," she declares. "So 
do I," I say, "so do I." And then with a sudden bold- 
ness: "Once I broke a stick of yours, a rotten stick you 
thought a sound one. Do you remember?" 

Then we laugh together and seem to approach across 
a painful, unnecessary distance that has separated us. 
It vanishes for ever. " I couldn't now," she says, "smack 
your face like that, Stephen." 

That seems to me a brilliantly daring and delightful 
thing for her to say, and jolly of her to use my Christian 
name too! "I believe I scratched," she adds. 

"You never scratched," I assert with warm conviction. 
"Never." 

"I did," she insists and I deny. "You couldn't." 

"We're growing up," she cries. "That's what has 
happened to us. We shall never fight again with our 
hands and feet, never until death do us part." 

"For better, or worse," I say, with a sense of wit and 
enterprise beyond all human precedent. 

"For richer, or poorer," she cries, taking up my chal- 
lenge with a lifting laugh in her voice. 

52 



INTENTIONS 

And then to make it all nothing again, she exclaims at 
the white lilies that rise against masses of sweet bay along 
the further wall. . . . 

How plainly I can recall it all! How plainly and how 
brightly! As we came up the broad steps at the further 
end towards the tennis lawn, she turned suddenly upon 
me and with a novel assurance of command told me to 
stand still. " There" she said with a hand out and seemed 
to survey me with her chin up and her white neck at the 
level of my eyes. "Yes. A whole step," she estimated, 
"and more, taller than I. You will look down on me, 
Stephen, now, for all the rest of our days." 

"I shall always stand," I answered, "a step or so below 
you." 

"No," she said, "come up to the level. A girl should 
be smaller than a man. You are a man, Stephen almost. 
. . . You must be near six feet. . . . Here's Guy with the 
box of balls." 

She flitted about the tennis court before me, playing 
with Philip against Guy and myself. She punished some 
opening condescensions with a wicked vigor and pres- 
ently Guy and I were straining every nerve to save the 
set. She had a low close serve I remember that seemed 
perfectly straightforward and simple, and was very dif- 
ficult to return. 



All that golden summer on the threshold of my manhood 
was filled by Mary. I loved her with the love of a boy 
and a man. Either I was with Mary or I was hoping^ 
and planning to be with Mary or I was full of some vivid 

53 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

new impression of her or some enigmatical speech, some 
pregnant nothing, some glance or gesture engaged and 
perplexed my mind. In those days I slept the profound 
sweet sleep of youth, but whenever that deep flow broke 
towards the shallows, as I sank into it at night and came 
out of it at morning, I passed through dreams of Mary to 
and from a world of waking thought of her. . 

There must have been days of friendly intercourse when 
it seemed we talked nothings and wandered and mean- 
dered among subjects, but always we had our eyes on one 
another. And afterwards I would spend long hours in 
recalling and analyzing those nothings, questioning their 
nothingness, making out of things too submerged and 
impalpable for the rough drags of recollection, promises 
and indications. I would invent ingenious things to say, 
things pushing out suddenly from nothingness to extreme 
significance. I rehearsed a hundred declarations. 

It was easy for us to be very much together. We 
were very free that summer and life was all leisure. 
Lady Ladislaw was busied with her own concerns; she 
sometimes went away for two or three days leaving no 
one but an attenuated governess with even the shadow 
of a claim to interfere with Mary. Moreover she was 
used to seeing me with her children at Burnmore; we 
were still in her eyes no more than children. . . . And 
also perhaps she did not greatly mind if indeed we did 
a little fall in love together. To her that may have seemed 
a very natural and slight and transitory possibility. . . . 

One afternoon of warm shadows in the wood near the 
red-lacquered Chinese bridge, we two were alone together 
and we fell silent. I was trembling and full of a wild 
courage. I can feel now the exquisite surmise, the doubt 

54 




INTENTIONS 

of that moment. Our eyes met. She looked up at me 
with an unwonted touch of fear in her expression and I 
laid my hands on her. She did not recoil, she stood mute 
with her lips pressed together, looking at me steadfastly. 
I can feel that moment now as a tremendous hesitation, 
blank and yet full of light and life, like a clear sky in the 
moment before dawn. . . . 

She made a little move towards me. Impulsively, with 
no word said, we kissed. 



I would like very much to give you a portrait of Mary 
as she was in those days. Every portrait I ever had 
of her I burnt in the sincerity of what was to have been 
our final separation, and now I have nothing of her in 
my possession. I suppose that in the files of old illustrated 
weeklies somewhere, a score of portraits must be findable. 
Yet photographs have a queer quality of falsehood. 
They have no movement and always there was a little 
movement about Mary just as there is always a little 
scent about flowers. She was slender and graceful, so 
that she seemed taller than she was, she had beautifully 
shaped arms and a brightness in her face; it seemed to me 
always that there was light in her face, more than the 
light that shone upon it. Her fair, very slightly reddish 
hair it was warm like Australian gold flowed with a 
sort of joyous bravery back from her low broad forehead; 
the color under her delicate skin was bright and quick, and 
her mouth always smiled faintly. There was a peculiar 
charm for me about her mouth, a whimsicality, a sort of 
humorous resolve in the way in which the upper lip fell 

55 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

upon the lower and in a faint obliquity that increased with 
her quickening smile. She spoke with a very clear delicate 
intonation that made one want to hear her speak again; 
she often said faintly daring things, and when she did, 
she had that little catch in the breath of one who dares. 
She did not talk hastily; often before she spoke came a 
brief grave pause. Her eyes were brightly blue except 
when the spirit of mischief took her and then they became 
black, and there was something about the upper and 
lower lids that made them not only the prettiest but the 
sweetest and kindliest eyes in the world. And she moved 
with a quiet rapidity, without any needless movements, 
to do whatever she had a mind to do. . . . 

But how impossible it is to convey the personal charm 
of a human being. I catalogue these things and it is as 
if she moved about silently behind my stumbling enumera- 
tion and smiled at me still, with her eyes a little darkened, 
mocking me. That phantom will never be gone from my 
mind. It was all of these things and none of these things 
that made me hers, as I have never been any other 
person's. . . . 

We grew up together. The girl of nineteen mingles 
in my memory with the woman of twenty-five. 

Always we were equals, or if anything she was the 
better of us two. I never made love to her in the com- 
moner sense of the word, a sense in which the woman 
is conceived of as shy, unawakened, younger, more plastic, 
and the man as tempting, creating responses, persuading 
and compelling. We made love to each other as youth 
should, we were friends lit by a passion. ... I think that 
is the best love. If I could wish your future I would have 
you love someone neither older and stronger nor younger 

56 



INTENTIONS 

and weaker than yourself. I would have you have neither 
a toy nor a devotion, for the one makes the woman con- 
temptible and the other the man. There should be some- 
thing almost sisterly between you. Love neither a god- 
dess no 1 " a captive woman. But I would wish you a better 
fate in your love than chanced to me. 

Mary was not only naturally far more quick-minded, 
more swiftly understanding than I, but more widely 
educated. Mine was the stiff limited education of the 
English public school and university; I could not speak 
and read and think French and German as she could 
for all that I had a pedantic knowledge of the older 
forms of those tongues; and the classics and mathe- 
matics upon which I had spent the substance of my years 
were indeed of little use to me, have never been of any 
real use to me, they were ladders too clumsy to carry 
4 .about and too short to reach anything. My general ideas 
came from the newspapers and the reviews. She on the 
other hand had read much, had heard no end of good con- 
versation, the conversation of people who mattered, had 
thought for herself and had picked the brains of her 
brothers. Her mother had let her read whatever books 
she liked, partly because she believed that was the proper 
thing to do, and partly because it was so much less 
trouble to be liberal in such things. 

We had the gravest conversations. 

I do not remember that we talked much of love, though 
we were very much in love. We kissed; sometimes 
greatly daring we walked hand in hand; once I took her 
in my arms and carried her over a swampy place beyond 
the Killing Wood, and held her closely to me; that was a 
great event between us ; but we were shy of one another, 

57 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

shy even of very intimate words; and a thousand daring 
and beautiful things I dreamt of saying to her went unsaid. 
I do not remember any endearing names from that time. 
But we jested and shared our humors, shaped our develop- 
ing ideas in quaint forms to amuse one another and talked 
as young men talk together. 

We talked of religion; I think she was the first person 
to thaw the private silences that had kept me bound in 
these matters even from myself for years. I can still 
recall her face, a little flushed and coming nearer to mine 
after avowals and comparisons. "But Stephen," she 
says; "if none of these things are really true, why do they 
keep on telling them to us? What is true? What are 
we for? What is Everything for?" 

I remember the awkwardness I felt at these indelicate 
thrusts into topics I had come to regard as forbidden. 

"I suppose there's a sort of truth in them," I said, and 
then more Siddonsesquely: "endless people wiser than 
we are 

"Yes," she said. "But that doesn't matter to us. 
Endless people wiser than we are have said one thing, and 
endless people wiser than we are have said exactly the 
opposite. It's we who have to understand for ourselves. 
. . . We don't understand, Stephen." 

I was forced to a choice between faith and denial. 
But I parried with questions. "Don't you," I asked, 
"feel there is a God?" 

She hesitated. "There is something something very 
beautiful," she said and stopped as if her breath had gone. 
"That is all I know, Stephen. . . ." 

And I remember too that we talked endlessly about 
the things I was to do in the world. I do not remember 

58 



INTENTIONS 

that we talked about the things she was to do, by some 
sort of instinct and some sort of dexterity she evaded 
that, from the very first she had reserves from me, but 
my career and purpose became as it were the form in 
which we discussed all the purposes of life. I became 
Man in her imagination, the protagonist of the world. 
At first I displayed the modest worthy desire for respect- 
able service that Harbury had taught me, but her clear, 
sceptical little voice pierced and tore all those pretences 
to shreds. "Do some decent public work," I said, or 
some such phrase. 

"But is that All you want?" I hear her asking. "Is 
that All you want?" 

I lay prone upon the turf and dug up a root of grass with 
my penknife. "Before I met you it was," I said. 

"And now?" 

"I want you." 

"I'm nothing to want. I want you to want all the 
world. . . . Why shouldn't you?" 

I think I must have talked of the greatness of serving 
the empire. "Yes, but splendidly," she insisted. "Not 
doing little things for other people who aren't doing 
anything at all. I want you to conquer people and lead 
people. . . . When I see you, Stephen, sometimes I 
almost wish I were a man. In order to be able to do all 
the things that you are going to do." 

"For you," I said, "for you." 

I stretched out my hand for hers, and my gesture went 
disregarded. 

She sat rather crouched together with her eyes gazing 
far away across the great spaces of the park. 

"That is what women are for," she said. "To make I 

59 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

men see how splendid life can be. To lift them up 

out of a sort of timid grubbiness " She turned upon 

me suddenly. " Stephen," she said, "promise me. 
Whatever you become, you promise and swear here and. 
now never to be grey and grubby, never to be humpy and 
snuffy, never to be respectable and modest and dull and 
a little fat, like like everybody. Ever." 

"I swear," I said. 

"Byrne." 

"By you. No book to kiss! Please, give me your 
hand." 

8 

All through that summer we saw much of each other. 
I was up at the House perhaps every other day; we 
young people were supposed to be all in a company 
together down by the tennis lawns, but indeed we dis- 
persed and came and went by a kind of tacit understand- 
ing, Guy and Philip each with one of the Fawney girls 
and I with Mary. I put all sorts of constructions upon 
the freedom I was given with her, but I perceive now that 
we still seemed scarcely more than children to Lady 
Ladislaw, and that the idea of our marriage was as 
inconceivable to her as if we had been brother and sister. 
Matrimonially I was as impossible as one of the stable 
boys. All the money I could hope to earn for years to 
come would not have sufficed even to buy Mary clothes. 
But as yet we thought little of matters so remote, glad 
in our wonderful new discovery of love, and when at last 
I went off to Oxford, albeit the parting moved us to much 
tenderness and vows and embraces, I had no suspicion 

60 



INTENTIONS 

that never more in all our lives would Mary and I meet 
freely and gladly without restriction. Yet so it was. 
From that day came restraints and difficulties; the 
shadow of f urtiveness fell between us ; our correspondence 
had to be concealed. 

I went to Oxford as one goes into exile; she to London. 
I would post to her so that the letters reached Landor 
House before lunch time when the sun of Lady Ladislaw 
came over the horizon, but indeed as yet no one was 
watching her letters. Afterwards as she moved about 
she gave me other instructions, and for the most part I 
wrote to her in envelopes addressed for her by one of 
the Fawney girls, who was under her spell and made no 
enquiry for what purpose these envelopes were needed. 

To me of course Mary wrote without restraint. All 
her letters to me were destroyed after our crisis, but some 
of mine to her she kept for many years; at last they 
came back to me so that I have them now. And for aH 
their occasional cheapness and crudity, I do not find 
anything in them to be ashamed of. They reflect, they 
are chiefly concerned with that search for a career of fine 
service which was then the chief preoccupation of my 
mind, the bias is all to a large imperialism, but it is mani- 
fest that already the first ripples of a rising tide of criti- 
cism against the imperialist movement had reached and 
were exercising me. In one letter I am explaining that 
imperialism is not a mere aggressiveness, but the estab- 
lishment of peace and order throughout half the world. 
" We may never withdraw," I wrote with all the confidence 
of a Foreign Secretary, "from all these great territories 
of ours, but we shall stay only to raise their peoples 
ultimately to an equal citizenship with ourselves." And 
5 61 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

then in the same letter: "and if I do not devote myself 
to the Empire what else is there that gives anything like 
the same opportunity of a purpose in life." I find myself 
in another tolerantly disposed to "accept socialism," but 
manifestly hostile to "the narrow mental habits of the 
socialists." The large note of youth! And in another I 
am clearly very proud and excited and a little mock- 
modest over the success of my first two speeches in the 
Union. 

On the whole I like the rather boyish, tremendously 
serious young man of those letters. An egotist, of course, 
but what youth was ever anything else? I may write 
that much freely now, for by this time he is almost as 
much outside my personality as you or my father. He is 
the young Stratton, one of a line. I like his gravity; if 
youth is not grave with all the great spectacle of life open- 
ing at its feet, then surely no age need be grave. I love 
and envy his simplicity and honesty. His sham modesty 
and so forth are so translucent as scarcely to matter. It 
is clear I was opening my heart to myself as I opened it to 
Mary. I wasn't acting to her. I meant what I said. 
And as I remember her answers she took much the same 
high tone with me, though her style of writing was far 
lighter than mine, more easy and witty and less continuous. 
She flashed and flickered. As for confessed love-making 
there is very little, I find at the end of one of my notes 
after the signature, "I love you, I love you." And she 
was even more restrained. Such little phrases as "Dear 
Stevenage" that was one of her odd names for me 
"I wish you were here," or "Dear, dear Stevenage," 
were epistolary events, and I would re-read the blessed 
wonderful outbreak a hundred times. . . . 

62 



INTENTIONS 

Our separation lengthened. There was a queer de- 
tached unexpected meeting in London in December, for 
some afternoon gathering. I was shy and the more dis- 
concerted because she was in winter town clothes that 
made her seem strange and changed. Then came the 
devastating intimation that all through the next summer 
the Ladislaws were to be in Scotland. 

I did my boyish utmost to get to Scotland. They were 
at Lankart near Invermoriston, and the nearest thing I 
could contrive was to join a reading party in Skye, a 
reading party of older men who manifestly had no great 
desire for me. For more than a year we never met at 
all, and all sorts of new things happened to us both. I 
perceived they happened to me, but I did not think they 
happened to her. Of course we changed. Of course in 
a measure and relatively we forgot. Of course there were 
weeks when we never thought of each other at all. Then 
would come phases of hunger. I remember a little note 
of hers. " Oh Stevenage," it was scrawled, " perhaps next 
Easter !" Next Easter was an aching desolation. The 
blinds of Burnmore House remained drawn; the place was 
empty except for three old servants on board-wages. 
The Christians went instead to the Canary Isles, following 
some occult impulse of Lady Ladislaw's. Lord Ladislaw 
spent the winter in Italy. 

What an empty useless beauty the great Park possessed 
during those seasons of intermission! There were a score 
of places in it we had made our own. . . . 

Her letters to Oxford would cease for weeks, and 
suddenly revive and become frequent. Now and then 
would come a love-letter that seemed to shine like stars 
as I read it; for the most part they were low-pitched, 

63 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

friendly or humorous letters in a roundish girlish writing 
that was maturing into a squarely characteristic hand. 
My letters to her too I suppose varied as greatly. We 
began to be used to living so apart. There were weeks 
of silence. . . . 

Yet always when I thought of my life as a whole, Mary 
ruled it. With her alone I had talked of my possible 
work and purpose; to her alone had I confessed to am- 
bitions beyond such modest worthiness as a public school 
drills us to affect. . . . 

Then the whole sky of my life lit up again with a strange 
light of excitement and hope. I had a note, glad and 
serenely friendly, to say they were to spend all the summer 
at Burnmore. 

I remember how I handled and scrutinized that letter, 
seeking for some intimation that our former intimacy 
was still alive. We were to meet. How should we meet ? 
How would she look at me ? What would she think of me ? 



9 

Of course it was all different. Our first encounter in 
this new phase had a quality of extreme disillusionment. 
The warm living creature, who would whisper, who would 
kiss with wonderful lips, who would say strange daring 
things, who had soft hair one might touch with a thrilling 
and worshipful hand, who changed one at a word or a look 
, into a God of pride, became as if she had been no more 
than a dream. A self-possessed young aristocrat in white 
and brown glanced at me from amidst a group of brilliant 
people on the terrace, nodded as it seemed quite carelessly 

64 



INTENTIONS 

in acknowledgment of my salutation, and resumed her 
confident conversation with a tall stooping man, no less a 
person than Evesham, the Prime Minister. He was 
lunching at Burnmore on his way across country to the 
Rileys. I heard that dear laugh of hers, as ready and 
easy as when she laughed with me. I had not heard it 
for nearly three years nor any sound that had its sweet- 
ness. "But Mr. Evesham," she was saying, "nowadays 
we don't believe that sort of thing " 

"There are a lot of things still for you to believe," says 
Mr. Evesham beaming. " A lot of things ! One's capacity 
increases. It grows with exercise. Justin will bear me 
out." 

Beyond her stood an undersized, brown-clad middle- 
aged man with a big head, a dark face and expressive 
brown eyes fixed now in unrestrained admiration on 
Mary's laughing face. This then was Justin, the in- 
credibly rich and powerful, whose comprehensive opera- 
tions could make and break a thousand fortunes in a day. 
He answered Evesham carelessly, with his gaze still on 
Mary, and in a voice too low for my straining ears. 
There was some woman in the group also, but she has left 
nothing upon my mind whatever except an effect of black 
and a very decorative green sunshade. She greeted 
Justin's remark, I remember, with the little yelp of 
laughter that characterized that set. I think too there 
was someone else in the group; but I cannot clearly recall 
who. . . . 

Presently as I and Philip made unreal conversation 
together I saw Mary disengage herself and come towards 
us. It was as if a princess came towards a beggar. 
Absurd are the changes of phase between women and 

65 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS [ 

men. A year or so ago and all of us had been but "the 
children" together; now here were I and Philip mere 
youths still, nobodies, echoes and aspirations, crude 
promises at the best, and here was Mary in full flower, 
as glorious and central as the Hampton Court azaleas in 
spring. 

"And this is Stephen," she said, aglow with happy 
confidence. 

I made no memorable reply, and there was a little 
pause thick with mute questionings. 

"After lunch," she said with her eye on mine, "I am 
going to measure against you on the steps. I'd hoped 
when you weren't looking I might creep up " 

"I've taken no advantage," I said. 

"You've kept your lead." 

Justin had followed her towards us, and now held 
out a hand to Philip. "Well, Philip my boy," he said, 
and defined our places. Philip made some introductory 
gesture with a word or so towards me. Justin glanced 
at me as one might glance at someone's new dog, gave 
an expressionless nod to my stiff movement of recogni- 
tion, and addressed himself at once to Mary. 

"Lady Mary," he said, "I've wanted to tell you " 

I caught her quick eye for a moment and knew she 
had more to say to me, but neither she nor I had the skill 
and alacrity to get that said. 

"I wanted to tell you," said Justin, "I've found a 
little Japanese who's done exactly what you wanted with 
that group of dwarf maples." 

She clearly didn't understand. 

"But what did I want, Mr. Justin?" she asked. 

" Don't say that you forget?" cried Justin. " Oh don't 
66 



INTENTIONS 

tell me you forget ! You wanted a little exact copy of a 

Japanese house I've had it done. Beneath the 

trees. . . ." 

"And so you're back in Burnmore, Mr. Stratton," said 
Lady Ladislaw intervening between me and their duo- 
logue. And I never knew how pleased Mary was with 
this faithful realization of her passing and forgotten fancy. 
My hostess greeted me warmly and pressed my hand, 
smiled mechanically and looked over my shoulder all the 
while to Mr. Evesham and her company generally, and 
then came the deep uproar of a gong from the house and 
we were all moving in groups and couples luncheonward. 

Justin walked with Lady Mary, and she was I saw 
an inch taller than his squat solidity. A tall lady in 
rose-pink had taken possession of Guy, Evesham and 
Lady Ladislaw made the two centres of a straggling group 
who were bandying recondite political allusions. Then 
came one or two couples and trios with nothing very 
much to say and active ears. Philip and I brought up 
the rear silently and in all humility. Even young Guy 
had gone over our heads. I was too full of a stupendous 
realization for any words. Of course, during those years, 
she had been doing no end of things ! And while I had 
been just drudging with lectures and books and theorizing 
about the Empire and what I could do with it, and taking 
exercise, she had learnt, it seemed the World. 

10 

Lunch was in the great dining-room. There was a big 
table and two smaller ones; we sat down anyhow, but 
the first comers had grouped themselves about Lady 

67 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Ladislaw and Evesham and Justin and Mary in a central 
orb, and I had to drift perforce to one of the satellites. 
I secured a seat whence I could get a glimpse ever and 
again over Justin's assiduous shoulders of a delicate 
profile, and I found myself immediately engaged in an- 
swering the innumerable impossible questions of Lady 
Viping, the widow of terrible old Sir Joshua, that devastat- 
ing divorce court judge who didn't believe in divorces. 
His domestic confidences had I think corrupted her mind 
altogether. She cared for nothing but evidence. She 
was a rustling, incessant, sandy, peering woman with a 
lorgnette and rapid, confidential lisping undertones, and 
she wanted to know who everybody was and how they 
were related. This kept us turning towards the other 
tables and when my information failed she would call 
upon Sir Godfrey Klavier, who was explaining, rather 
testily on account of her interruptions, to Philip Christian 
and a little lady in black and the elder Fawney girl just 
why he didn't believe Lady Ladislaw's new golf course 
would succeed. There were two or three other casual 
people at our table; one of the Roden girls, a young 
guardsman and, I think, some other man whom I don't 
clearly remember. 

4 'And so that's the great Mr. Justin/' rustled Lady 
Viping and stared across me. 

(I saw Evesham leaning rather over the table to point 
some remark at Mary, and noted her lips part to reply.) 

"What is the word?" insisted Lady Viping like a fly 
in my ear. 

I turned on her guiltily. 

"Whether it's brachy," said Lady Viping, "or whether 
it's dolly/ can never remember?" 

08 



INTENTIONS 

I guessed she was talking of Justin's head. "Oh! 
brachy cephalic," I said. 

I had lost Mary's answer. 

"They say he's a woman hater," said Lady Viping. 
"It hardly looks like it now, does it?" 

"Who?" I asked. "What? oh! Justin." 

"The great financial cannibal. Suppose she turned 
him into a philanthropist! Stranger things have hap- 
pened. Look! now. The man's face is positively 
tender." 

I hated looking, and I could not help but look. It 
was as if this detestable old woman was dragging me 
down and down, down far below all dignity to her own 
level of a peeping observer. Justin was saying some- 
thing to Mary in an undertone, something that made her 
glance up swiftly and at me before she answered, and 
there I was with my head side by side with those quivering 
dyed curls, cfchat flighty black bonnet, that remorseless 
observant lorgnette. I could have sworn aloud at the 
hopeless indignity of my pose. 

I saw Mary color qt 'ckly before I looked away. 

"Charming, isn't she?" said Lady Viping, and I dis- 
covered those infernal glasses were for a moment honor- 
ing me. They shut with a click. "Ham," said Lady 
Viping. "I told him no ham and now I remember 
I like ham. Or rather I like spinach. I forgot the 
spinach. One has the ham for the spinach, don't you 
think? Yes, tell him. She's a perfect Dresden orna- 
ment, Mr. Stratton. She's adorable . . . (lorgnette and 
search for fresh topics). Who is the dark lady with the 
slight moustache sitting there next to Guy? Sir God- 
frey, who is the dark lady? No, I don't mean Mary 

69 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Fitton. Over there! Mrs. Roperstone. Ooh The Mrs. 
Roperstone. (Renewed lorgnette and click.) Yes ham. 
With spinach. A lot of spinach. There's Mr. Evesham 
laughing again. He's greatly amused. Unusual for him 
to laugh twice. At least, aloud. (Rustle and adjust- 
ment of lorgnette.) Mr. Stratton, don't you think? 
exactly like a little shepherdess. Only I can't say I think 
Mr. Justin is like a shepherd. On the whole, more like 
a large cloisonne jar. Now Guy would do. As a pair 
they're beautiful. Pity they're brother and sister. Curi- 
ous how that boy manages to be big and yet delicate. 
H'm. Mixed mantel ornaments. Sir Godfrey, how old 
is Mrs. Roperstone? . . . You never know on principle. 
I think I shall make Mr. Stratton guess. What do you 
think, Mr. Stratton? . . . You never guess on principle! 
Well, we're all very high principled. (Fresh exploratory 
movements of the lorgnette.) Mr. Stratton, tell me; is 
that little peaked man near Lady Ladislaw Mr. Roper- 
stone? I thought as much!" 

All this chatter is mixed up in my mind with an unusual 
sense of hovering attentive menservants, who seemed 
all of them to my heated imagination to be watching me 
(and particularly one clean-shaven, reddish-haired, full- 
faced young man) lest I looked too much at the Lady 
Mary Christian. Of course they were merely watching 
our plates and glasses, but my nerves and temper were 
now in such a state that if my man went off to the buffet 
to get Sir Godfrey the pickled walnuts, I fancied he went 
to report the progress of my infatuation, and if a strange 
face appeared with the cider cup, that this was a new 
observer come to mark the revelation of my behavior. 
My food embarrassed me. I found hidden meanings in 

70 



INTENTIONS 

the talk of the Roden girl and her guardsman, and an 
ironical discovery in Sir Godfrey's eye. . . . 

I felt indignant with Mary. I felt she disowned me 
and deserted me and repudiated me, that she ought in 
some manner to have recognized me. I gave her no 
credit for her speech to me before the lunch, or her promise 
to measure against me again. I blinded myself to all 
her frank friendliness. I felt she ought not to notice 
Justin, ought not to answer him. . . . 

Clearly she liked those men to flatter her, she liked 
it. ... 

I remember too, so that I must have noted it and felt 
it then as a thing perceived for the first time, the large 
dignity of the room, the tall windows and splendid rich 
curtains, the darkened Hoppners upon the walls. I 
noted too the quality and abundance of the table things, 
and there were grapes and peaches, strawberries, cherries 
and green almonds, piled lavishly above the waiting 
dessert plates with the golden knives and forks, upon 
a table in the sunshine of the great bay. The very 
sunshine filtered through the tall narrow panes from the 
great chestnut trees without, seemed of a different quality 
from the common light of day. . . . 

I felt like a poor relation. I sympathized with Anar- 
chists. We had come out of the Park now finally, both 
Mary and I into this. . . . 

" Mr. Stratton I am sure agrees with me." 

For a time I had been marooned conversationally, 
and Lady Viping had engaged Sir Godfrey. Evidently 
he was refractory and she was back at me. 

"Look at it now in profile," she said, and directed me 
once more to that unendurable grouping. Justin again ! 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"It's a heavy face," I said. 

"It's a powerful face. I wouldn't care anyhow to 
be up against it as people say." And the lorgnette 
shut with a click. "What is this? Peaches! Yes, 
and give me some cream." . . . 

I hovered long for that measuring I had been prom- 
ised on the >steps, but either Mary had : forgotten or 
she deemed it wiser to forget. 



I took my leave of Lady Ladislaw when the departure 
of Evesham broke the party into dispersing fragments. 
I started down the drive towards the rectory and then 
vaulted the railings by the paddock and struck across 
beyond the mere. I could not go home with the im- 
mense burthen of thought and new ideas and emotions 
that had come upon me. I felt confused and shattered to 
incoherence by the new quality of Mary's atmosphere. 
I turned my steps towards the wilder, lonelier part of the 
park beyond the Killing Wood, and lay down in a wide 
space of grass between two divergent thickets of bracken, 
and remained there for a very long time. 

There it was in the park that for the first time I pitted 
myself against life upon a definite issue, and prepared 
my first experience of defeat. "I will have her," I said, 
hammering at the turf with my fist. "I will. I do not 
care if I give all my life . . ." 

Then I lay still and bit the sweetness out of joints of 
grass, and presently thought and planned. 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH 
THE MARRIAGE OP THE LADY MARY CHRISTIAN 

i 

FOR three or four days I could get no word with Mary. 
I could not now come and go as I had been able to do 
in the days when we were still "the children." I could 
not work, I could not rest, I prowled as near as I could 
to Burnmore House hoping for some glimpse of her, 
waiting for the moment when I could decently present 
myself again at the house. 

When at last I called, Justin had gone and things 
had some flavor of the ancient time. Lady Ladislaw 
received me with an airy intimacy, all the careful re- 
sponsibility of her luncheon party manner thrown aside. 
"And how goes Cambridge?" she sang, sailing through 
the great saloon towards me, and I thought that for the 
occasion Cambridge instead of Oxford would serve suf- 
ficiently well. "You'll find them all at tennis," said Lady 
Ladislaw, and waved me on to the gardens. There I 
found all four of them and had to wait until their set was 
finished. 

"Mary," I said at the first chance, "are we never to 
talk again?" 

"It's all different," she said. 

73 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"I am dying to talk to you as we used to talk." 

"And I Stevenage. But You see?" 

"Next time I come," I said, "I shall bring you a letter. 
There is so much " 

"No," she said. "Can't you get up in the morning? 
Very early five or six. No one is up until ever so late." 

"I'd stay up all night." 

"Serve!" said Maxton, who was playing the two of 
us and had stopped I think to tighten a shoe. 

Things conspired against any more intimacy for a 
time. But we got our moment on the way to tea. She 
glanced back at Philip, who was loosening the net, and 
then forward to estimate the distance of Maxton and 
Guy. "They're all three going," she said, "after Tues- 
day. Then before six." 

"Wednesday?" 

"Yes." 

"Suppose after all," she threw out, "I can't come." 

"Fortunes of war." 

"If I can't come one morning I may come another," 
she spoke hastily, and I perceived that Guy and Maxton 
had turned and were waiting for us. 

"You know the old Ice House?" 

"Towards the gardens?" 

"Yes. On the further side. Don't come by the road, 
come across by the end of the mere. Lie in the bracken 
until you see me coming. . . . I've not played tennis a 
dozen times this year. Not half a dozen." 

This last was for the boys. 

"You've played twenty times at least since you've 
been here," said Guy, with the simple bluntness of a 
brother. "I'm certain." 

74 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 



To this day a dewy morning in late August brings 
back the thought of Mary and those stolen meetings. 
I have the minutest recollection of the misty bloom 
upon the turf, and the ragged, filmy carpet of gossamer 
on either hand, of the warm wetness of every little blade 
and blossom and of the little scraps and seeds of grass 
upon my soaking and discolored boots. Our footsteps 
were dark green upon the dew-grey grass. And I feel 
the same hungry freshness again at the thought of those 
stolen meetings. Presently came the sunrise, blinding, 
warming, dew-dispelling arrows of gold smiting through 
the tree stems, a flood of light foaming over the bracken 
and gilding the under sides of the branches. Everything 
is different and distinctive in those opening hours; every- 
thing has a different value from what it has by day. 
All the little things upon the ground, fallen branches, 
tussocks, wood-piles, have a peculiar intensity and impor- 
tance, seem magnified, because of the length of their shad- 
ows in the slanting rays, and all the great trees seem lifted 
above the light and merged with the sky. And at last, 
a cool grey outline against the blaze and with a glancing 
iridescent halo about her, comes Mary, flitting, adven- 
turous, friendly, wonderful. 

"Oh Stevenage!" she cries, "to see you again !" 

We each hold out both our hands and clasp and hesitate 
and rather shyly kiss. 

"Come!" she says, "we can talk for an hour. It's 
still not six. And there is a fallen branch where we can 

75 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

sit and put our feet out of the wet. Oh! it's so good to 
be out of things again clean out of things with you. 
Look! there is a stag watching us." 

"You're glad to be with me?" I ask, jealous of the very 
sunrise. 

"I am always glad," she says, "to be with you. Why 
don't we always get up at dawn, Stevenage, every day 
of our lives?" 

We go rustling through the grass to the prostrate timber 
she has chosen. (I can remember even the thin bracelet 
on the wrist of the hand that lifted her skirt.) I help 
her to clamber into a comfortable fork from which her 
feet can swing. . . . 

Such fragments as this are as bright, as undimmed, as 
if we had met this morning. But then comes our con- 
versation, and that I find vague and irregularly obliter- 
ated. But I think I must have urged her to say she 
loved me, and beat about the bush of that declaration, 
too fearful to put my heart's wish to the issue, that she 
would promise to wait three years for me until I could 
prove it was not madness for her to marry me. "I have 
been thinking of it all night and every night since I have 
been here," I said. "Somehow I will do something. 
In some way I will get hold of things. Believe me! 
with all my strength." 

I was standing between the forking boughs, and she 
was looking down upon me. 

"Stephen dear," she said, "dear, dear Boy; I have never 
wanted to kiss you so much in all my life. Dear, come 
close to me." 

She bent her fresh young face down to mine, her fingers 
were in my hair. 

76 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

"My Knight,'* she whispered close to me. "My beau- 
tiful young Knight." 

I whispered back and touched her dew fresh lips. . . . 

"And tell me what you would do to conquer the world 
for me?" she asked. 

I cannot remember now a word of all the vague threat- 
enings against the sundering universe with which I replied. 
Her hand was on my shoulder as she listened. . . . 

But I do know that even on this first morning she left 
me with a sense of beautiful unreality, of having dipped 
for some precious moments into heroic gossamer. All 
my world subjugation seemed already as evanescent as 
the morning haze and the vanishing dews as I stood, a 
little hidden in the shadows of the Killing Wood and ready 
to plunge back at the first hint of an observer, and watched 
her slender whiteness flit circumspectly towards the house. 



3 

Our next three or four meetings are not so clearly 
defined. We did not meet every morning for fear that her 
early rising should seem too punctual to be no more than 
a chance impulse, nor did we go to the same place. But 
there stands out very clearly a conversation in a different 
mood. We had met at the sham ruins at the far end of 
the great shrubbery, a huge shattered Corinthian portico 
of rather damaged stucco giving wide views of the hills 
towards Alfridsham between its three erect pillars, and 
affording a dry seat upon its fallen ones. It was an over- 
cast morning, I remember probably the hour was earlier; 
a kind of twilight clearness made the world seem strange 
6 77 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and the bushes and trees between us and the house very 
heavy and still and dark. And we were at cross purpose, 
for now it was becoming clear to me that Mary did not 
mean to marry me, that she dreaded making any promise 
to me for the future, that all the heroic common cause I 
wanted with her, was quite alien to her dreams. 

"But Mary/' I said looking at her colorless delicate 
face, " don't you love me? Don't you want me?" 

"You know I love you, Stevenage," she said. "You 
know." 

"But if two people love one another, they want to be 
always together, they want to belong to each other." 

She looked at me with her face very intent upon her 
meaning. "Stevenage," she said after one of those 
steadfast pauses of hers, "I want to belong to myself. 7 ^ 

"Naturally," I said with an air of disposing of an argu- 
ment, and then paused. 

"Why should one have to tie oneself always to one 
other human being?" she asked. "Why must it be like 
that?" 

I do not remember how I tried to meet this extraor- 
dinary idea. "One loves," I may have said. The subtle 
scepticisms of her mind went altogether beyond my 
habits of thinking; it had never occurred to me that there 
was any other way of living except in these voluntary and 
involuntary mutual servitudes in which men and women 
live and die. "If you love me," I urged, "if you love 

me I want nothing better in all my life but to love 

and serve and keep you and make you happy." 

She surveyed me and weighed my words against her 
own. 

"I love meeting you," she said. "I love your going 
78 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

because it means that afterwards you will come again. 
I love this this slipping out to you. But up there, 
there is a room in the house that is my place me 
my own. Nobody follows me there. I want to go on 
living, Steyenage, just as I am living now. I don't want 
to become someone's certain possession, to be just usual 
and familiar to anyone. No, not even to you." 

" But if you love," I cried. 

"To you least of all. Don't you see? I want to 
be wonderful to you, Stevenage, more than to anyone. 
I want I want always to make your heart beat faster. 
I want always to be coming .to you with my own heart 
beating faster. Always and always I want it to be like 
that. Just as it has been on these mornings. It has 
been beautiful altogether beautiful." 

"Yes," I said, rather helplessly, and struggled with 
great issues I had never faced before. 

"It isn't," I said, "how people live." 

"It is how I want to live," said Mary. 

"It isn't the way life goes." 

"I want it to be. Why shouldn't it be? Why at any 
rate shouldn't it be for me?" 



I made some desperate schemes to grow suddenly rich 
and powerful, and I learnt for the first time my true 
economic value. Already my father and I had been 
discussing my prospects in life and he had been finding 
me vague and difficult. I was full of large political 
intentions, but so far I had made no definite plans for a 

79 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

living that would render my political ambitions possible. 
It was becoming apparent to me that for a poor man in 
England, the only possible route to political distinction 
is the bar, and I was doing my best to reconcile myself 
to the years of waiting and practice that would have to 
precede my political debut. 

My father disliked the law. And I do not think it 
reconciled him to the idea of my being a barrister that 
afterwards I hoped to become a politician. "It isn't 
in our temperament, Stephen," he said. "It's a pushing, 
bullying, cramming, base life. I don't see you succeed- 
ing there, and I don't see myself rejoicing even if you 
do succeed. You have to shout, and Strattons don't shout ; 
you have to be smart and tricky and there's never been 
a smart and tricky Stratton yet; you have to snatch 
opportunities and get the better of the people and mis- 
represent the realities of every case you touch. You're 
a paid misrepresenter. They say you'll get a fellowship, 
Stephen. Why not stay up, and do some thinking for a 
year or so. There'll be enough to keep you. Write a little. ' ' 

"The bar," I said, "is only a means to an end." 

"If you succeed." 

"If I succeed. One has to take the chances of life 
everywhere." 

"And what is the end ?" 

' ' Constructive statesmanship . ' ' 

"Not in that way," said my father, pouring himself 
a second glass of port, and turned over my high-sound- 
ing phrase with a. faint hint of distaste; "Constructive 
Statesmanship. No. Once a barrister always a barrister. 
You'll only be a party politician. . . . Vulgar men. . . , 
Vulgar. ... If you succeed that is. ..." 

80 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

He criticized me but he did not oppose me, and already 
in the beginning of the summer we had settled that I 
should be called to the bar. 

Now suddenly I wanted to go back upon all these 
determinations. I began to demand in the intellectual 
slang of the time "more actuality, "' and to amaze my 
father with talk about empire makers and the greatness 
of Lord Strathcona and Cecil Rhodes. Why, I asked, 
shouldn't I travel for a year in search of opportunity? 
At Oxford I had made acquaintance with a son of Pram- 
ley's, the big Mexican and Borneo man, and to him I 
wrote, apropos of a half-forgotten midnight talk in the 
rooms of some common friend. He wrote back with the 
suggestion that I should go and talk to his father, and I 
tore myself away from Mary and went up to see that 
great exploiter of undeveloped possibilities and have one 
of the most illuminating and humiliating conversations 
in the world. He was, I remember, a little pale-com- 
plexioned, slow-speaking man with a humorous blue eye, 
a faint, just perceptible northern accent and a trick of 
keeping silent for a moment after you had finished speak- 
ing, and he talked to me as one might talk to a child of 
eight who wanted to know how one could become a 
commander-in-chief . His son had evidently emphasized 
my Union reputation, and he would have been quite 
willing, I perceived, to give me employment if I had 
displayed the slightest intelligence or ability in any 
utilizable direction. But quite dreadfully he sounded my 
equipment with me and showed me the emptiness of my 
stores. 

"You want some way that gives you a chance of grow- 
ing rich rapidly/ 1 he said. "Aye. It's not a bad idea. 

81 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

But there's others, you know, have tried that game before 

ye. 

"You don't want riches just for riches but for an 
end. Aye! Aye! It's the spending attracts ye. You'd 
not have me think you'd the sin of avarice. I'm clear 
on that about ye. 

"Well," he explained, "it's all one of three things we 
do, you know prospecting and forestalling and just 
stealing, and the only respectable way is prospecting. 
You'd prefer the respectable way, I suppose? ... I 
knew ye would. Well, let's see what chances ye have." 

And he began to probe my practical knowledge. It 
was like an unfit man stripping for a medical inspection. 
Did I know anything of oil, of rubber, of sugar, of sub- 
stances generally, had I studied mineralogy or geology, 
had I any ideas of industrial processes, of technical 
chemistry, of rare minerals, of labor problems and the 
handling of alien labor, of the economics of railway man- 
agement or of camping out in dry, thinly populated 
countries, or again could I maybe speak Spanish or 
Italian or Russian? The little dons who career about 
Oxford afoot and awheel, wearing old gowns and mortar- 
boards, giggling over Spooner's latest, and being tremen- 
dous "characters" in the intervals of concocting the rul- 
ing-class mind, had turned my mind away from such 
matters altogether. I had left that sort of thing to 
Germans and east-end Jews and young men from the 
upper-grade board schools of Sheffield and Birmingham. 
I was made to realize appalling wildernesses of igno- 
rance. . . . 

"You see," said old Pramley, "you don't seem to know 
anything whatever. It's a deeficulty. It '11 stand in 

82 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

your way a little now, though no doubt you'd be quick 
at the uptake after all the education they've given ye. 
. . . But it stands in your way, if ye think of setting 
out to do something large and effective, just immedi- 
ately. . . ." 

Moreover it came out, I forget now how, that I hadn't 
clearly grasped the difference between cumulative and 
non-cumulative preference shares. . . . 

I remember too how I dined alone that evening in a 
mood between frantic exasperation and utter abasement 
in the window of the Mediated Universities Club, of which 
I was a junior member under the undergraduate rule. 
And I lay awake all night in one of the austere club 
bedrooms, saying to old Pramley a number of extremely 
able and penetrating things that had unhappily not, 
occurred to me during the progress of our interview. I 
didn't go back to Burnmore for several days. I had set 
my heart on achieving something, on returning with some 
earnest of the great attack I was to make upon the separat- 
ing great world between myself and Mary. I am far 
enough off now from that angry and passionate youngster 
to smile at the thought that my subjugation of things in 
general and high finance in particular took at last the form 
of proposing to go into the office of Bean, Medhurst, 
Stockton, and Schnadhorst upon half commission terms. 
I was awaiting my father's reply to this startling new sug- 
gestion when I got a telegram from Mary. "We are 
going to Scotland unexpectedly. Come down and see 
me." I went home instantly, and told my father I had 
come to talk things over with him. A note from Mary 
lay upon the hall-table as I came in and encountered my 
father. "I thought it better to come down to you/' I 

83 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

said with my glance roving to find that, and then I met 
his eye. It wasn't altogether an unkindly eye, but I 
winced dishonestly. 

"Talking is better for all sorts of things," said my 
father, and wanted to know if the weather had been as 
hot in London as it had been in Burnmore. 

Mary's note was in pencil, scribbled hastily. I was to 
wait after eleven that night near the great rose bushes 
behind the pavilion. Long before eleven I was there, 
on a seat in a thick shadow looking across great lakes 
of moonlight towards the phantom .statuary of the 
Italianate garden and the dark laurels that partly masked 
the house. I waited nearly an hour, an hour of stillness 
and small creepings and cheepings and goings to and fro 
among the branches. 

In the bushes near by me a little green glow-worm 
shared my vigil. 

And then, wrapped about in a dark velvet cloak, 
still in her white dinner dress, with shining, gleaming, 
glancing stones about her dear throat, warm and won- 
derful and glowing and daring, Mary came flitting out of 
the shadows to me. 

"My dear," she whispered, panting and withdraw- 
ing a little from our first passionate embrace, "Oh my 
dear! . . . How did I come? Twice before, when I was a 
girl, I got out this way. By the corner of the conserva- 
tory and down the laundry wall. You can't see from 
here, but it's easyeasy. There's a tree that helps. 
And now I have come that way to you. You! . 

"Oh! love me, my Stephen, love me, dear. Love me 
as if we were never to love again. Am I beautiful, my 
dear? Am I beautiful in the moonlight? Tell me! 

84 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

! 

"Perhaps this is the night of our lives, dear! Perhaps 
never again will you and I be happy! . . . 

"But the wonder, dear, the beauty! Isn't it still? 
It's as if nothing really stood solid and dry. As if every- 
thing floated. . . . 

"Everyone in all the world has gone to sleep to-night 
and left the world to us. Come! Come this way and 
peep at the house, there. Stoop under the branches. 
See, not a light is left! And all its blinds are drawn 
and its eyes shut. One window is open, my little window, 
Stephen! but that is in the shadow where that creeper 
makes everything black. 

"Along here a little further is night-stock. Now 
Now! Sniff, Stephen! Sniff! The scent of it! It 
lies like a bank of scented air. . . . And Stephen, there! 
Look! ... A star a star without a sound, falling out of 
the blue! It's gone!" 

There was her dear face close to mine, soft under the 
soft moonlight, and the breath of her sweet speech mingled 
with the scent of the night-stock. . . . 

That was indeed the most beautiful night of my life, 
a night of moonlight and cool fragrance and adventurous 
excitement. We were transported out of this old world 
of dusty limitations; it was as if for those hours the curse 
of man was lifted from our lives. No one discovered us, 
no evil thing came near us. For a long time we lay close 
in one another's arms upon a bank of thyme. Our heads 
were close together; her eyelashes swept my cheek, we 
spoke rarely and in soft whispers, and our hearts were 
beating, beating. We were as solemn as great mountains 
and as innocent as sleeping children. Our kisses were 
kisses of moonlight. And it seemed to me that nothing 

85 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

that had ever happened or could happen afterwards, 
mattered against that happiness. . . . 

It was nearly three when at last I came back into my 
father's garden. No one had missed me from my room 
and the house was all asleep, but I could not get in because 
I had closed a latch behind me, and so I stayed in the little 
arbor until day, watching the day break upon long beaches 
of pale cloud over the hills towards Alfridsham. I slept 
at last with my head upon my arms upon the stone table, 
until the noise of shooting bolts and doors being unlocked 
roused me to watch my chance and slip back again into 
the house, and up the shuttered darkened staircase to my 
tranquil, undisturbed bedroom. 



It was in the vein of something evasive in Mary's 
character that she let me hear first of her engagement 
to Justin through the Times. Away there in Scotland 
she got I suppose new perspectives, new ideas; the glow 
of our immediate passion faded. The thing must have 
been drawing in upon her for some time. Perhaps she 
had meant to tell me of it all that night when she had 
summoned me to Burnmore. Looking back now I am 
the more persuaded that she did. But the thing came 
to me in London with the effect of an immense treachery. 
Within a day or so of the newspaper's announcement 
she had written 'me a long letter answering some argu- 
ment of mine, and saying nothing whatever of the people 
about her. Even then Justin must have been asking her 
to marry him. Her mind must have been full of that 

86 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

question. Then came a storm of disappointment, 
humiliation and anger with this realization. I can still 
feel myself writing and destroying letters to her, letters of 
satire, of protest. Oddly enough I cannot recall the letter 
that at last I sent her, but it is eloquent of the weak 
boyishness of my position that I sent it in our usual 
furtive manner, accepted every precaution that confessed 
the impossibility of our relationship. "No," she scribbled 
back, "you do not understand. I cannot write. I must 
talk to you." 

We had a secret meeting. 

With Beatrice Normandy's connivance she managed 
to get away for the better part of the day, and we spent 
a long morning in argument in the Botanical Gardens 
that obvious solitude and afterwards we lunched upon 
ham and ginger beer at a little open-air restaurant near 
the Broad Walk and talked on until nearly four. We 
were so young that I think we both felt, beneath our 
very real and vivid emotions, a gratifying sense of roman- 
tic resourcefulness in this prolonged discussion. There is ' 
something ridiculously petty and imitative about youth, 
something too, naively noble and adventurous. I can 
never determine if older people are less generous and 
imaginative or merely less absurd. I still recall the 
autumnal melancholy of that queer, neglected-looking 
place, in which I had never been before, and which I 
have never revisited a memory of walking along narrow 
garden paths beside queer leaf -choked artificial channels 
of water under yellow-tinted trees, of rustic bridges going 
nowhere in particular, and of a kind of brickwork ruined 
castle, greatly decayed and ivy-grown, in which we sat 
for a long time looking out upon a lawn and a wide 

87 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

gravel path leading to a colossal frontage of conser- 
vatory. 

I must have been resentful and bitter in the begin- 
ning of that talk. I do not remember that I had any 
command of the situation or did anything but protest 
throughout that day. I was too full of the egotism of the 
young lover to mark Mary's moods and feelings. It was 
only afterwards that I came to understand that she was 
not wilfully and deliberately following the course that was 
to separate us, that she was taking it with hesitations and 
regrets. Yet she spoke plainly enough, she spoke with a 
manifest sincerity of feeling. And while I had neither 
the grasp nor the subtlety to get behind her mind I per- 
ceive now as I think things out that Lady Ladislaw had 
both watched and acted, had determined her daughter's 
ideas, sown her mind with suggestions, imposed upon her 
a conception of her situation that now dominated all her 
thoughts. 

"Dear Stephen/ ' reiterated Mary, "I love you. I 
do, clearly, definitely, deliberately love you. Haven't 
I told you that? Haven't I made that plain to you?" 

"But you are going to marry Justin!" 

"Stephen dear, can I possibly marry you? Can I?" 

"Why not? Why not make the adventure of life with 
me? Dare!" 

She looked down on me. She was sitting upon a 
parapet of the brickwork and I was below her. She 
seemed to be weighing possibilities. 

"Why not?" I cried. "Even now. Why not run 
away with me, throw our two lives together? Do as 
lovers have dared to do since the beginning of things! 

Let us go somewhere together " 

88 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

"But Stephen," she asked softly, "where?" 

"Anywhere!" 

She spoke as an elder might do to a child. "No! 
tell me where exactly. Where would it be? Where 
should we go? How should we live? Tell me. Make 
me see it, Stephen." 

"You are too cruel to me, Mary," I said. "How 
can I on the spur of the moment arrange ?" 

"But dear, suppose it was somewhere very grimy 
and narrow! Something like some of those back streets 
I came through to get here. Suppose it was some dread- 
ful place. And you had no money. And we were both 
worried and miserable. One gets ill in such places. If 
I loved you, Stephen I mean if you and I if you and 
I were to be together, I should want it to be in sunshine, 
I should want it to be among beautiful forests and moun- 
tains. Somewhere very, beautiful. . . ." 

"Why not?" 

"Because to-day I know. There are no such places 
in the world for us. Stephen, they are dreams." 

"For three years now," I said, "I have dreamed such 
dreams. 

"Oh!" I cried out, stung by my own words, "but this 
is cowardice! Why should we submit to this old world! 
Why should we give up things you have dreamed as well 
as I! You said once to hear my voice calling in the 
morning. . . . Let us take each other, Mary, now. Now! 
Let us take each other, and" I still remember my im- 
potent phrase "afterwards count the cost!" 

"If I were a queen," said Mary. "But you see I am 
not a queen." . . . 

So we talked in fragments and snatches of argument;, 

89 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and all she said made me see more clearly the large hope- 
lessness of my desire. "At least," I urged, "do not marry 
Justin now. Give me a chance. Give me three years, 
Mary, three short years, to work, to do something!" 

She knew so clearly now the quality of her own in- 
tentions. 

"Dear Stephen," she explained, "if I were to come 
away with you and marry you, in just a little time I 
should cease to be your lover, I should be your squaw. 
I should have to share your worries and make your coffee 
and disappoint you, disappoint you and fail you in a 
hundred ways. Think! Should I be any good as a 
squaw? How can one love when one knows the coffee 
isn't what it should be, and one is giving one's lover in- 
digestion? And I don't want to be your squaw. I don't 
want that at all. It isn't how I feel for you. I don't 
want to be your servant and your possession." 

"But you will be Justin's squaw, you are going to 
marry him!" 

"That is all different, Stevenage. Between him 
and me there will be space, air, dignity, endless ser- 
vants " 

"But," I choked. "You! He! He will make love 
to you, Mary." 

"You don't understand, Stephen." 

"He will make love to you, Mary. Mary! don't you 

understand? These things We've never talked of 

them. . . . You will bear him children!" 

"No," she said. 

"But " 

"No. He promises. Stephen, I am to own myself.' 1 

"But He marries you!" 
90 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

"Yes, Because he he admires me. He cannot live 
without me. He loves my company. He loves to be 
seen with me. He wants me with him to enjoy all the 
things he has. Can't you understand, Stephen?" 

"But do you mean ?" 

Our eyes met. 

"Stephen," she said, "I swear." 

"But He hopes." 

"I don't care. He has promised. I have his promise. 
I shall be free. Oh! I shall be free free! He is a 
different man from you, Stephen. He isn't so fierce; he 
isn't so greedy." 

"But it parts us!" 

"Only from impossible things." 

"It parts us." 

"It does not even part us, Stevenage. We shall see 
one another! we shall talk to one another." 

"I shall lose you." 

"I shall keep you." 

"But I do you expect me to be content with this?" 

"I will make you content. Oh! Stephen dear, can't 
there be love love without this clutching, this gripping, 
this carrying off?" 

"You will be carried altogether out of my world." 

"If I thought that, Stephen, indeed I would not marry 
him." 

But I insisted we should be parted, and parted in the 
end for ever, and there I was the wiser of the two. I knew 
the insatiable urgency within myself. I knew that if I 
continued to meet Mary I should continue to desire her 
until I possessed her altogether. 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 



6 

I cannot reproduce with any greater exactness than 
this the quality and gist of our day-long conversation. 
Between us was a deep affection, and instinctive attrac- 
tion, and our mental temperaments and our fundamental 
ideas were profoundly incompatible. We were both 
still very young in quality, we had scarcely begun to 
think ourselves out, we were greatly swayed by the 
suggestion of our circumstances, complex, incoherent 
and formless emotions confused our minds. But I see 
now that in us there struggled vast creative forces, forces 
that through a long future, in forms as yet undreamt of, 
must needs mould the destiny of our race. Far more 
than Mary I was accepting the conventions of our time. 
It seemed to me not merely reasonable but necessary 
that because she loved me she should place her life in 
my youthful and inexpert keeping, share my struggles and 
the real hardships they would have meant for her, devote 
herself to my happiness, bear me children, be my in- 
spiration in imaginative moments, my squaw, helper and 
possession through the whole twenty-four hours of every 
day, and incidentally somehow rear whatever family 
we happened to produce, and I was still amazed in the 
depths of my being that she did not reciprocate this simple 
and comprehensive intention. I was ready enough I 
thought for equivalent sacrifices. I was prepared to give 
my whole life, subordinate all my ambitions, to the effort 
to maintain our home. If only I could have her, have 
her for my own, I was ready to pledge every hour I had 
still to live to that service. It seemed mere perversity 

92 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

to me then that she should turn even such vows as that 
against me. 

"But I don't want it, Stevenage," she said. "I 
don't want it. I want you to go on to the service of the 
empire, I want to see you do great things, do all the 
things we've talked about and written about. Don't 
you see how much better that is for you and for me 
and for the world and our lives? I don't want yott to 
become a horrible little specialist in feeding and keep- 
ing me." 

"Then then wait for me!" I cried. 

"But I want to live myself! I don't want to wait. 
I want a great house, I want a great position, I want 
space and freedom. I want to have clothes and be 
as splendid as your career is going; to be. I want to be a 
great and shining lady in your life. I can't always live 
as I do now, dependent on my mother, whirled about by 
her movements, living in her light. Why should I be 
just a hard-up Vestal Virgin, Stephen, in your honor? 
You will not be able to marry me for years and years and 
years unless you neglect your work, unless you throw 
away everything that is worth having between us in order 
just to get me." 

" But I want you, Mary," I cried, drumming at the little 
green table with my fist. "I want you. I want nothing 
else in all the world unless it has to do with you." 

"You've got me as much as anyone will ever have 
me. You'll always have me. Always I will write to you, 
talk to you, watch you. Why are you so greedy, Stephen? 
Why are you so ignoble? If I were to come now and 
marry you, it wouldn't help you. It would turn you 
into a wife-keeper, into the sort of uninteresting pre- 
7 93 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

occupied man one sees running after and gloating over the 
woman he's bought at the price of his money and his 
dignity and everything. . . . It's not proper for a man 
to live so for a woman and her children. It's dwarfish. 
It's enslaving. It's it's indecent. Stephen! I'd hate 
you so." . . . 



We parted at last at a cab-rank near a bridge over 
the Canal at the western end of Park Village. I remember 
that I made a last appeal to her as we walked towards 
it, and that we loitered on the bridge, careless of who 
might see us there, in a final conflict of our wills. * ' Before 
it is too late, Mary, dear," I said. 

She shook her head, her white lips pressed together. 

" But after the things that have happened. That night 
the moonlight!" 

"It's not fair," she said, "for you to talk of that. It 
isn't fair." 

"But Mary. This is parting. This indeed is part- 
ing." 

She answered never a word. 

"Then at least talk to me again for one time more." 

"Afterwards," she said. "Afterwards I will talk to 
you. Don't make things too hard for me, Stephen." 

"If I could I would make this impossible. It's it's 
hateful." 

She turned to the kerb, and for a second or so we stood 
there without speaking. Then I beckoned to a hansom. 

She told me Beatrice Normandy's address. 

I helped her into the cab. "Good-bye," I said with a 
94 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

;veak affectation of an everyday separation, and I turned 
:o the cabman with her instructions. 

Then again we looked at one another. The cabman 
waited. "All right, sir?" he asked. 

" Go ahead !" I said, and lifted my hat to the little white 
:ace within. 

I watched the cab until it vanished round the curve of 
;he road. Then I turned about to a world that had be- 
come very large and empty and meaningless. 



8 

I struggled feebly to arrest the course of events. I 
Mary some violent and bitter letters. I treated 
ler as though she alone were responsible for my life 
md hers; I said she had diverted my energies, betrayed 
ne, ruined my life. I hinted she was cold-blooded, 
nercenary, shameless. Someday you, with that quick 
;emper of yours and your power of expression, will under- 
;tand that impulse to write, to pour out a passionately 
mjust interpretation of some nearly intolerable situation, 
md it is not the least of all the things I owe to Mary that 
>he understood my passion and forgave those letters and 
'orgot them. I tried twice to go and see her. But I do 
lot think I need tell you, little son, of these self-inflicted 
lumiliations and degradations. An angry man is none 
;he less a pitiful man because he is injurious. The hope 
:hat had held together all the project of my life was gone, 
md all my thoughts and emotions lay scattered in con- 
'usion. . . . 

You see, my little son, there are two sorts of love; 

95 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

we use one name for very different things. The love that 
a father bears his children, that a mother feels, that comes 
sometimes, a strange brightness and tenderness that is 
half pain, at the revelation of some touching aspect of 
one long known to one, at the sight of a wife bent with 
fatigue and unsuspicious of one's presence, at the wretch- 
edness and perplexity of some wrong-doing brother, or at 
an old servant's unanticipated tears, that is love like 
the love God must bear us. That is the love we must 
spread from those of our marrow until it reaches out to all 
mankind, that will some day reach out to all mankind. 
But the love of a young man for a woman takes this 
quality only in rare moments of illumination and com- 
plete assurance. My love for Mary was a demand, it was 
a wanton claim I scored the more deeply against her for 
every moment of happiness she gave me. I see now that 
as I emerged from the first abjection of my admiration 
and began to feel assured of her affection, I meant nothing 
by her but to possess her, I did not want her to be happy 
as I want you to be happy even at the price of my life; 
I wanted her. I wanted her as barbarians want a hunted 
enemy, alive or dead. It was a flaming jealousy to have 
her mine. That granted, then I was prepared for all 
devotions. . . . 

y This is how men love women. Almost as exclusively 
and fiercely I think do women love men. And the 
deepest question before humanity is just how far this 
jealous greed may be subdued to a more generous passion. 
The fierce jealousy of men for women and women for men 
is the very heart of all our social jealousies, the underlying 
tension of this crowded modern life that has grown out 
of the ampler, simpler, ancient life of men. That is why 

96 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

we compete against one another so bitterly, refuse asso- \ 
ciation and generous co-operations, keep the struggle for 
existence hard and bitter, hamper and subordinate the 
w6men as they in their turn would if they could hamper / 
and subordinate the men because each must thoroughly 
have his own. 

And I knew my own heart too well to have any faith 
in Justin and his word. He was taking what he could, 
and his mind would never rest until some day he had all. 
I had seen him only once, but the heavy and resolute 
profile above his bent back and slender shoulders stuck 
in my memory. 

If he was cruel to Mary, I told her, or broke his least 
promise to her, I should kill him. 



9 

My distress grew rather than diminished in the days 
immediately before her marriage, and that day itself 
stands out by itself in my memory, a day of wander- 
ing and passionate unrest. My imagination tormented 
me with thoughts of Justin as a perpetual privileged 
wooer. 

Well, well, I will not tell you, I will not write the 
ugly mockeries my imagination conjured up. I was con- 
stantly on the verge of talking and cursing aloud to myself, 
or striking aimlessly at nothing with clenched fists. I was 
too stupid to leave London, too disturbed for work or any 
distraction of my mind. I wandered about the streets 
of London all day. In the morning I came near going to 
the church and making some preposterous interruptions. 

97 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

And I remember discovering three or four carriages 
adorned with white favors and a little waiting crowd out- 
side that extinguisher-spired place at the top of Regent 
Street, and wondering for a moment or so at their 
common preoccupation, and then understanding. Of 
course, another marriage ! Of all devilish institu- 
tions! 

What was I to do with my life now? What was to be- 
come of my life? I can still recall the sense of blank un- 
answerableness with which these questions dominated my 
mind, and associated with it is an effect of myself as a 
small human being, singular and apart, wandering through 
a number of London landscapes. At one time I was in a 
great grey smoke-rimmed autumnal space of park, much 
cut up by railings and worn by cricket pitches, far away 
from any idea of the Thames, and in the distance over 
the tops of trees I discovered perplexingly the clustering 
masts and spars of ships. I have never seen that place 
since. Then the Angel at Islington is absurdly mixed 
up with the distresses of this day. I attempted some 
great detour thence, and found myself with a dumb 
irritation returning to the place from another direction. 
I remember too a wide street over which passes a thunder- 
ing railway bridge borne upon colossal rounded pillars of 
iron, and carrying in white and blue some big advertise- 
ment, I think of the Daily Telegraph. Near there I 
thought a crowd was gathered about the victim of some 
accident, and thrusting myself among the people with a 
vague idea of help, discovered a man selling a remedy for 
corns. And somewhere about this north region I dis- 
covered I was faint with hunger, and got some bread and 
cheese and beer in a gaudily decorated saloon bar with a 

98 



MARRIAGE OF LADY MARY 

sanded floor. I resisted a monstrous impulse to stay in 
that place and drink myself into inactivity and stupefac- 
tion with beer. 

Then for a long time I sat upon an iron seat near some 
flower beds in a kind of garden that had the headstones 
of graves arranged in a row against a yellow brick wall. 
The place was flooded with the amber sunshine of a 
September afternoon. I shared the seat with a nursemaid 
in charge of a perambulator and several scuffling uneasy 
children, and I kept repeating to myself: "By now it is 
all over. The thing is done." 

My sense of the enormity of London increased with the 
twilight, and began to prevail a little against my intense 
personal wretchedness. I remember wastes of building 
enterprise, interminable vistas of wide dark streets, with 
passing trams, and here and there at strategic corners 
coruscating groups of shops. And somewhere I came 
along a narrow street suddenly upon the distant prospect 
of a great monstrous absurd place on a steep hill against 
the- last brightness of the evening sky, a burlesque block of 
building with huge truncated pyramids at either corner, 
that I have since learnt was the Alexandra Palace. It 
was so queer and bulky that it arrested and held my 
attention, struck on my memory with an almost dreamlike 
quality, so that years afterwards I went to Muswell Hill 
to see if indeed there really was such a place on earth, or 
whether I had had a waking nightmare during my wan- 
derings. . . . 

I wandered far that night, very far. Some girl accosted 
me, a thin-faced ruined child younger by a year or so than 
myself. I remembered how I talked to her, foolish ramb- 
ling talk. "If you loved a man, and he was poor, you'd 

99 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

wait," I said, "you'd stick to him. You'd not leave him 
just to get married to a richer man." 

We prowled talking for a time, and sat upon a seat 
somewhere near the Regent's Park canal. I rather think 
I planned to rescue her from a fallen life, but somehow 
we dropped that topic. I know she kissed me. I have 
a queer impression that it came into my head to marry 
her. I put all my loose money in her hands at last and 
went away extraordinarily comforted by her, I know not 
how, leaving her no doubt wondering greatly. 

J did not go to bed that night at all, nor to the office 
next morning. I never showed myself in the office again. 
Instead I went straight down to my father, and told him 
I wanted to go to the war forthwith. I had an indistinct 
memory of a promise I had made Mary to stay in England, 
but I felt it was altogether unendurable that I should 
ever meet her again. My father sat at table over the 
remains of his lunch, and regarded me with astonishment, 
with the beginnings of protest. 

"I want to get away," I said, and to my own amaze- 
ment and shame I burst into tears. 

"My boy!" he gasped, astonished and terrified. 
"You've you've not done some foolish tiling?" 

"No," I said, already wiping the tears from my face, 
"nothing. . . . But I want to go away." 

"You shall do as you please," he said, and sat for a 
moment regarding his only son with unfathomable eyes. 

Then he got up with a manner altogether matter-of- 
fact, came half-way round the table and mixed me a 
whisky and soda. "It won't be much of a war, I'm 
told," he said with the syphon in his hands, breaking 
a silence, '"I sometimes wish I had seen a bit of 

100 



MARRIAGE OF 'LADY M/iRViiA 

soldiering. And this seems to be an almost unavoidable 
war. Now, at any rate, it's unavoidable. . . . Drink 
this and have a biscuit." 

He turned to the mantelshelf, and filled his pipe with 

his broad back to me. "Yes," he said, "you You'll 

be interested in the war. I hope I hope you'll 

have a good time there. . . ." 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH 
THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA 

MARY and I did not meet again for five years, and 
for nearly all that time I remained in South Africa. 
I went from England a boy; I came back seasoned into 
manhood. They had been years of crowded experience, 
rapid yet complicated growth, disillusionment and thought. 
Responsibility had come to me. I had seen death, I had 
seen suffering, and held the lives of men in my hands. 

Of course one does not become a soldier on active 
service at once for the wishing, and there was not at 
first that ready disposition on the part of the home 
military authorities which arose later, to send out young 
enthusiasts. I could ride and shoot fairly well, and 
accordingly I decided to go on my own account to Durban 
for it was manifest that things would begin in Natal 
and there attach myself to some of the local volunteer 
corps that would certainly be raised. This took me out 
of England at once, a thing that fell in very well with 
my mood. I would, I was resolved, begin life afresh. I 
would force myself to think of nothing but the war. I 
would never if I could help it think of Mary again. 

The war had already begun when I reached Durban. 
The town was seething with the news of a great British 

102 



WAR 

victory at Dundee. We came into the port through 
rain and rough weather and passed a big white liner 
loaded up feverishly from steam tenders with wealthy 
refugees going England-ward. From two troopships 
against the wharves there was a great business of land- 
ing horses the horses of the dragoons and hussars from 
India. I spent the best part of my first night in South 
Africa in the streets looking in vain for a bedroom, 
and was helped at last by a kindly rickshaw Zulu to a 
shanty where I slept upon three chairs. I remember 
I felt singularly unwanted. 

The next day I set about my volunteering. By mid- 
day I had opened communications with that extremely 
untried and problematical body, the Imperial Light 
Horse, and in three days more I was in the company of a 
mixed batch of men, mostly Australian volunteers, on 
my way to a place I had never heard of before called 
Ladysmith, through a country of increasing picturesque- 
ness and along a curious curving little line whose down 
traffic seemed always waiting in sidings, and consisted of 
crowded little trains full of pitiful fugitives, white, brown, 
and black, stifled and starving. They were all clamoring 
to buy food and drink and none seemed forthcoming. 
We shunted once to allow a southbound train to pass, a 
peculiar train that sent everyone on to the line to see 
prisoners of war! There they were, real live enemies, 
rather glum, looking out at us with faces very like our 
own but rather more unshaven. They had come from 
the battle of Elandslaagte. . . . 

I had never been out of England before except for 
a little mountaineering in the French Alps and one 
walking excursion in the Black Forest, and the scenery 

103 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

of lower Natal amazed me. I had expected nothing 
nearly so tropical, so rich and vivid. There were little 
Mozambique monkeys chattering in the thick-set trees 
beside the line and a quantity of unfamiliar birds and 
gaudy flowers amidst the abundant deep greenery. 
There were aloe and cactus hedges, patches of unfamiliar 
cultivation upon the hills; bunchy, frondy growths that 
I learnt were bananas and plantains, and there were 
barbaric insanitary-looking Kaffir kraals which I sup- 
posed had vanished before our civilization. There seemed 
an enormous quantity of Kaffirs all along the line and 
all of them, men, women, and children, were staring at the 
train. The scenery grew finer and bolder, and more bare 
and mountainous, until at last we came out into the great 
basin in which lay this Ladysmith. It seemed a poor 
unimportant, dusty little street of huts as we approached 
it, but the great crests beyond struck me as very beautiful 
in the morning light. . . . 

I forgot the beauty of those hills as we drew into the 
station. It was the morning after the surrender of 
Nicholson's Nek. I had come to join an army already 
tremendously astonished and shattered. The sunny 
prospect of a triumphal procession to Pretoria which had 
been still in men's minds at Durban had vanished al- 
together. In rather less than a fortnight of stubborn 
fighting we had displayed a strategy that was flighty 
rather than brilliant, and lost a whole battery of guns 
and nearly twelve hundred prisoners. We had had com- 
pensations, our common soldiers were good stuff at any 
rate, but the fact was clear that we were fighting an army 
not only very much bigger than ours but better equipped, 
with bigger guns, better information, and it seemed 

104 



WAR 

superior strategy. We were being shoved back into this 
Ladysmith and encircled. This confused, disconcerted, 
and thoroughly bad-tempered army, whose mules and 
bullocks cumbered the central street of the place, was all 
that was left of the British Empire in Natal. Behind it 
was an unprotected country and the line to Pietermaritz- 
burg, Durban, and the sea. 

You cannot imagine how amazed I felt at it. I had 
been prepared for a sort of Kentucky quality in the 
enemy, illiteracy, pluck, guile and good shooting, but 
to find them with more modern arms than our own, more 
modern methods! Weren't we there, after all, to teach 
them! Weren't we the Twentieth and they the Eighteenth 
Century? The town had been shelled the day before 
from those very hills I had admired; at any time it 
might be shelled again. The nose of a big gun was 
pointed out to me by a blasphemous little private in the 
Devons. It was a tremendous, a profoundly impressive, 
black snout. His opinions of the directing wisdom at 
home were unquotable. The platform was a wild con- 
fusion of women and children and colored people, 
there was even an invalid lady on a stretcher. Every 
non-combatant who could be got out of Ladysmith was 
being hustled out that day. Everyone was smarting 
with the sense of defeat in progress, everyone was disap- 
pointed and worried; one got short answers to one's 
questions. For a time I couldn't even find out where I 
had to go. . . . 

2 

I fired my first shot at a fellow-creature within four 
days of my arrival. We rode out down the road to the 

105 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

south to search some hills, and found the Boers in fair 
strength away to the east of us. We were dismounted 
and pushed up on foot through a wood to a grassy crest. 
There for the first time I saw the enemy, little respectable- 
looking unsoldierlike figures, mostly in black, dodging 
about upon a ridge perhaps a mile away. I took a shot 
at one of these figures just before it vanished into a gully. 
One or two bullets came overhead, and I tried to remember 
what I had picked up about cover. They made a sound, 
whijf-er-whijff, a kind of tearing whistle, and there was 
nothing but a distant crackling to give one a hint of their 
direction until they took effect. I remember the peculiar 
smell of the grass amidst which I crouched, my sudden 
disgust to realize I was lying, and had to lie now for an 
indefinite time, in the open sunlight and far from any 
shade, and how I wondered whether after all I had 
wanted to come to this war. 

We lay shooting intermittently until the afternoon, I 
couldn't understand why; we went forward a little, and 
at last retired upon Ladysmith. On the way down to 
the horses, I came upon my first dead man. He was 
lying in a crumpled heap not fifty yards from where I 
had been shooting. There he lay, the shattered mirror 
of a world. One side of his skull over the ear had been 
knocked away by a nearly spent bullet, and he was 
crumpled up and face upward as though he had struggled 
to his feet and fallen back. He looked rather horrible, 
with blue eyes wide open and glassily amazed, and the 
black flies clustering upon his clotted wound and round 
his open mouth. . . . 

I halted for a moment at the sight, and found the 
keen scrutiny of a fellow trooper upon me. "No good 

106 



WAR 

waiting for him," I said with an affectation of indifference. 
But all through the night I saw him again, and marvelled 
at the stupendous absurdity of such a death. I was a 
little feverish, I remember, and engaged in an interminable 
theological argument with myself, why when a man is 
dead he should leave so queer and irrelevant a thing as a 
body to decay. . . . 

I was already very far away from London and Burnmore 
Park. I doubt if I thought of Mary at all for many days. 



3 

It isn't my business to write here any consecutive 
story of my war experiences. Luck and some latent 
quality in my composition made me a fairly successful 
soldier. Among other things I have an exceptionally 
good sense of direction, and that was very useful to me, 
and in Burnmore Park I suppose I had picked up many 
of the qualities of a scout. I did some fair outpost work 
during the Ladysmith siege, I could report as well as 
crawl and watch, and I was already a sergeant when we 
made a night attack and captured and blew up Long 
Tom. There, after the fight, while we were covering the 
engineers, I got a queer steel ball about the size of a pea 
in my arm, a bicycle bearings ball it was, and had my first 
experience of an army surgeon's knife next day. It was 
much less painful than I had expected. I was also hit 
during the big assault on the sixth of January in the left 
shoulder, but so very slightly that I wasn't technically 
disabled. They were the only wounds I got in the war, 
but I went under with dysentery before the relief; and 

107 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

though I was by no means a bad case I was a very yellow- 
faced, brokdh-looking convalescent when at last the Boer 
hosts rolled northward again and Buller's men came 
riding across the flats. . . . 

I had seen some stimulating things during those four 
months of actual warfare, a hundred intense impressions 
of death, wounds, anger, patience, brutality, courage, 
generosity and wasteful destruction above all, wasteful 
destruction to correct the easy optimistic patriotism 
of my university days. There is a depression in the open- 
ing stages of fever and a feebleness in a convalescence on a 
starvation diet that leads men to broad and sober views. 
(Heavens! how I hated the horse extract 'chevriT we 
called it that served us for beef tea.) When I came 
down from Ladysmith to the sea to pick up my strength 
I had not an illusion left about the serene, divinely ap- 
pointed empire of the English. But if I had less national 
conceit, I had certainly more patriotic determination. 
That grew with every day of returning health. The 
reality of this war had got hold of my imagination, as 
indeed for a time it got hold of the English imagination 
altogether, and I was now almost fiercely keen to learn and 
do. At the first chance I returned to active service, and 
now I was no longer a disconsolate lover taking war for a 
cure, but an earnest, and I think reasonably able, young 
officer, very alert for chances. 

I got those chances soon enough. I rejoined our men 
beyond Kimberley, on the way to Mafeking, we were 
the extreme British left in the advance upon Pretoria 
and I rode with Mahon and was ambushed with him in a 
little affair beyond Koodoosrand. It was a sudden brisk 
encounter. We got fired into at close quarters, but we 

108 



WAR 

knew our work by that time, and charged home and 
brought in a handful of prisoners to make up for the men 
we had lost. A few days later we came into the flattened 
ruins of the quaintest siege in history. . . . 

Three days after we relieved Mafeking I had the luck 
to catch one of Snyman's retreating guns rather easily, 
the only big gun that was taken at Mafeking. I came 
upon it unexpectedly with about twenty men, spotted a 
clump of brush four hundred yards ahead, galloped into it 
before the Boers realized the boldness of our game, shot 
all the draught oxen while they hesitated, and held them 
up until Chambers arrived on the scene. The incident 
got perhaps a disproportionate share of attention in the 
papers at home, because of the way in which Mafeking 
had been kept in focus. I was mentioned twice again 
in despatches before we rode across to join Roberts in 
Pretoria and see what we believed to be the end of the 
war. We were too late to go on up to Komatipoort, and 
had some rather blank and troublesome work on the north 
side of the town. That was indeed the end of the great 
war; the rest was a struggle with guerillas. 

Everyone thought things were altogether over. I 
wrote to my father discussing the probable date of my 
return. But there were great chances still to come for 
an active young officer; the guerilla war was to prolong 
the struggle yet for a whole laborious, eventful year, 
and I was to make the most of those later opportuni- 
ties. . . . 

Those years in South Africa are stuck into my mind 

like like those pink colored pages about something 

else one finds at times in a railway Indicateur. Chance 

had put this work in my way, and started me upon it 

8 109 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

with a reputation that wasn't altogether deserved, and I 
found I could only live up to it and get things done well 
by a fixed and extreme concentration of my attention. 
But the whole business was so interesting that I found 
it possible to make that concentration. Essentially war- 
fare is a game of elaborate but witty problems in precau- 
tion and anticipation, with amazing scope for invention. 
You so saturate your mind with the facts and possibilities 
of the situation that intuitions emerge. It did not do to 
think of anything beyond those facts and possibilities and 
dodges and counterdodges, for to do so was to let in irrele- 
vant and distracting lights. During all that concluding 
year of service I was not so much myself as a forced and 
artificial thing I made out of myself to meet the special 
needs of the time. I became a Boer-outwitting animal. 
When I was tired of this specialized thinking, then the 
best relief, I found, was some quite trivial occupation 
playing poker, yelling in the chorus of some interminable 
song one of the men would sing, or coining South African 
Limericks or playing burlesque bouts-rimes with Fred 
Maxim, who was then my second in command. . . . 

Yet occasionally thought overtook me. I remember 
lying one night out upon a huge dark hillside, in a melan- 
choly wilderness of rock-ribbed hills, waiting for one of the 
flying commandoes that were breaking northward from 
Cape Colony towards the Orange River in front of Colonel 
Eustace. We had been riding all day, I was taking risks 
in what I was doing, and there is something very cheerless 
in a tireless bivouac. My mind became uncontrollably 
active. 

It was a clear, still night. The young moon set early 
in a glow of white that threw the jagged contours of a hill 

no 



-WAR 

to the south-east into strange, weird prominence. The 
patches of moonshine evaporated from the summits of the 
nearer hills, and left them hard and dark. Then there 
was nothing but a great soft black darkness below that 
jagged edge and above it the stars very large and bright. 
Somewhere under that enormous serenity to the south 
of us the hunted Boers must be halting to snatch an hour 
or so of rest, and beyond them again extended the long 
thin net of the pursuing British. It all seemed infinitely 
small and remote, there was no sound of it, no hint of it, 
no searchlight at work, no faintest streamer of smoke nor 
the reflection of a solitary fire in the sky. . . . 

All this business that had held my mind so long was 
reduced to insignificance between the blackness of the 
hills and the greatness of the sky; a little trouble, it 
seemed of no importance under the Southern Cross. And 
I fell wondering, as I had not wondered for long, at the 
forces that had brought me to this occupation and the 
strangeness of this game of war which had filled the minds 
and tempered the spirit of a quarter of a million of men 
for two hard-living years. 

I fell thinking of the dead. 

No soldier in a proper state- of mind ever thinks of the 
dead. At times of course one suspects, one catches a 
man glancing at the pair of boots sticking out stiffly from 
under a blanket, but at once he speaks of other things. 
Nevertheless some suppressed part of my being had been 
stirring up ugly and monstrous memories, of distortion, 
disfigurement, torment and decay, of dead men in stained 
and ragged clothes, with their sole-worn boots drawn 
up under them, of the blood trail of a dying man who had 
crawled up to a dead comrade rather than die alone, 

in 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

of Kaffirs heaping limp, pitiful bodies together for burial, 
of the voices of inaccessible wounded in the rain on 
Waggon Hill crying in the night, of a heap of men we found 
in a donga three days dead, of the dumb agony of shell-torn 
horses, and the vast distressful litter and heavy brooding 
stench, the cans and cartridge-cases and filth and bloody 
rags of a shelled and captured laager. I will confess I 
have never lost my horror of dead bodies; they are dread- 
ful to me dreadful. I dread their stiff attitudes, their 
terrible intent inattention. To this day such memories 
haunt me. That night they nearly overwhelmed me. . . . 
I thought of the grim silence of the surgeon's tent, the 
miseries and disordered ravings of the fever hospital, of 
the midnight burial of a journalist at Ladysmith with 
the distant searchlight on Bulwana flicking suddenly upon 
our faces and making the coffin shine silver white. What 
a -vast trail of destruction South Africa had become! I 
thought of the black scorched stones of burnt and aban- 
doned farms, of wretched natives we had found shot 
like dogs and flung aside, rottenly ainazed, decaying in 
infinite indignity; of stories of treachery and fierce re- 
venges sweeping along in the trail of the greater fighting. 
I knew too well of certain atrocities, one had to believe 
them incredibly stupid to escape the conviction that 
they were incredibly evil. 

For a time my mind could make no headway against 
its monstrous assemblage of horror. There was some- 
thing in that jagged black hill against the moonshine 
and the gigantic basin of darkness out of which it rose 
that seemed to gather all these gaunt and grisly effects 
into one appalling heap of agonizing futility. That rock rose 
up and crouched like something that broods and watches. 

112 



WAR 

I remember I sat up in the darkness staring at it. 

I found myself murmuring: "Get the proportions 
of things, get the proportions of things !" I had an 
absurd impression of a duel between myself and the 
cavernous antagonism of the huge black spaces below me. 
I argued that all this pain and waste was no more than 
the selvedge of a proportionately limitless fabric of sane, 
interested, impassioned and joyous living. These stiff 
still memories seemed to refute me. But why us? they 
seemed to insist. In some way it's essential, this 
margin. I stopped at that. 

"If all this pain, waste, violence, anguish is essential 
to life, why does my spirit rise against it? What is 
wrong with me?" I got from that into a corner of self- 
examination. Did I respond overmuch to these painful 
aspects in life? When I was a boy I had never had the 
spirit even to kill rats. Siddons came into the meditation, 
Siddons, the essential Englishman, a little scornful, throw- 
ing out contemptuous phrases. Soft! Was I a soft? 
What was a soft? Something not rough, not hearty and 
bloody! I felt I had to own to the word after years of 
resistance. A dreadful thing it is when a great empire 
has to rely upon soft soldiers. 

Was civilization breeding a type of human being too 
tender to go on living? I stuck for a time as one does on 
these nocturnal occasions at the word "hypersensitive," 
going round it and about it. ... 

I do not know now how it was that I passed from 
a mood so darkened and sunless to one of exceptional 
exaltation, but I recall very clearly that I did. I believe 
that I made a crowning effort against this despair and 
horror that had found me out in the darkness and over- 

"3 
* 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

come. I cried in my heart for help, as a lost child cries, to 
God. I seem to remember a rush of impassioned prayer, 
not only for myself, not chiefly for myself, but for all 
those smashed and soiled and spoilt and battered residues 
of men whose memories tormented me. I prayed to God 
that they had not lived in vain, that particularly those 
poor Kaffir scouts might not have lived in vain. "They 
^, are like children," I said. "It was a murder of children. 
. . . By children!" 

My horror passed insensibly. I have to feel the dread- 
fulness of these things, I told myself, because it is good 
for such a creature as I to feel them dreadful, but if one 
understood it would all be simple. Not dreadful at all. 
I clung to that and repeated it, "it would all be per- 
fectly simple." It would come out no more horrible than 
the things that used to frighten me as a child, the shadow 
on the stairs, the white moonrise reflected on a barked 
and withered tree, a peculiar dream of moving geometrical 
forms, an ugly illustration in the "Arabian Nights." . . . 

I do not know how long I wrestled with God and 
prayed that night, but abruptly the shadows broke; and 
very suddenly and swiftly my spirit seemed to flame up 
into space like some white beacon that is set alight. 
Everything became light and clear and confident. I was 
assured that all was well with us, with us who lived and 
fought and with the dead who rotted now in fifty thousand 
hasty graves. . . . 

For a long time it seemed I was repeating again and 
again with soundless lips and finding the deepest comfort 
in my words: "And out of our agonies comes victory, 
out of our agonies comes victory ! Have pity on us, God 
our Father!" 

114 



WAR 

I think that mood passed quite insensibly from waking 
to a kind of clear dreaming. I have an impression that 
I fell asleep and was aroused by a gun. Yet I was cer- 
tainly still sitting up when I heard that gun. 

I was astonished to find things darkly visible about 
me. I had not noted that the stars were growing pale 
until the sound of this gun very far away called my mind 
back to the grooves in which it was now accustomed to 
move. I started into absolute wakeftdness. A gun? . . . 

I found myself trying to see my watch. 

I heard a slipping and clatter of pebbles near me, and 
discovered Fred Maxim at my side. ''Look!'* he said, 
hoarse with excitement. " Already!'* He pointed to a 
string of dim little figures galloping helter-skelter over 
the neck and down the gap in the hills towards us. 

They came up against the pale western sky, little 
nodding swaying black dots, and flashed over and were 
lost in the misty purple groove towards us. They must 
have been riding through the night the British following. 
To them we were invisible. Behind us was the shining 
east, we were in a shadow still too dark to betray us. 

In a moment I was afoot and called out to the men, 
my philosophy, my deep questionings, all torn out of my 
mind like a page of scribbled poetry plucked out of a 
business note-book. Khaki figures were up all about me 
passing the word and hurrying to their places. All the 
dispositions I had made overnight came back clear and 
sharp into my mind. We hadn't long for preparations 

It seems now there were only a few busy moments 
before the fighting began. It must have been much longer 
in reality. By that time we had seen their gun come 
over and a train of carts. They were blundering right 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

into us. Every moment it was getting lighter, and the 
moment of contact nearer. Then " Crack!" from down 
below among the rocks, and there was a sudden stoppage 
of the -trail of dark shapes upon the hillside. " Crack !" 
came a shot from our extreme left. I damned the im- 
patient men who had shot away the secret of our presence. 
But we had to keep them at a shooting distance. Would 
the Boers have the wit to charge through us before the 
daylight came, or should we hold them? I had a swift, 
disturbing idea. Would they try a bolt across our front 
to the left? Had we extended far enough across the deep 
valley to our left? But they'd hesitate on account of their 
gun. The gun couldn't go that way because of the gullies 
and thickets. . . . But suppose they tried it! I hung 
between momentous decisions. . . . 

Then all up the dim hillside I could make out the 
Boers halting and riding back. One rifle across there 
flashed. 

We held them! . . . 

We had begun the fight of Pieters Nek, which ended 
before midday with the surrender of Simon Botha and 
over seven hundred men. It was the crown of all my 
soldiering. 

4 

I came back to England at last when I was twenty- 
six. After the peace of Vereeniging I worked under the 
Repatriation Commission which controlled the distribution 
of returning prisoners and concentrated population to 
their homes; for the most part I was distributing stock 
and grain, and presently manoeuvring a sort of ploughing 

116 



WAR 

flying column that the dearth of horses and oxen made 
necessary, work that was certainly as hard as if far less 
exciting than war. That particular work of replanting 
the desolated country with human beings took hold of 
my imagination, and for a time at least seemed quite 
straightforward and understandable. The comfort of 
ceasing to destroy ! 

No one has written anything that really conveys the 
quality of that repatriation process; the queer business 
of bringing these suspicious, illiterate, despondent people 
back to their desolated homes, reuniting swarthy fathers 
and stockish mothers, witnessing their touchingly inex- 
pressive encounters, doing what one could to put heart 
into their resumption. Memories come back to me of 
great littered heaps of luggage, bundles, blankets, rough 
boxes, piled newly purchased stores, ready-made doors, 
window sashes heaped ready for the waggons, slow-moving, 
apathetic figures sitting and eating, an infernal squawking 
of parrots, sometimes a wailing of babies. Repatriation 
went on to a parrot obligato, and I never hear a parrot 
squawk without a flash of South Africa across my mind. 
All the prisoners, I believe, brought back parrots some 
two or three. I had to spread these people out, over a 
country still grassless, with teams of war-worn oxen, mules 
and horses that died by the dozen on my hands. The end 
of each individual instance was a handshake, and one 
went lumbering on, leaving the children one had deposited 
behind one already playing with old ration-tins or hunting 
about for cartridge-cases, while adults stared at the work 
they had to do. 

k There was something elementary in all that redistribu- 
tion. I felt at times like a child playing in a nursery and 

117 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

putting out its bricks and soldiers on the floor. There 
was a kind of greatness too about the process, a quality 
of atonement. And the people I was taking back, the 
men anyhow, were for the most part charming and wonder- 
ful people, very simple and emotional, so that once a big 
bearded man, when I wanted him in the face of an over- 
flowing waggon to abandon about half-a-dozen great 
angular colored West Indian shells he had lugged with 
him from Bermuda, burst into tears of disappointment. 
I let him take them, and at the end I saw them placed 
with joy and reverence in a little parlor, to become the 
war heirlooms no doubt of a long and bearded family. 
As we shook hands after our parting coffee he glanced at 
them with something between gratitude and triumph in 
his eyes. 

Yes, that was a great work, more especially for a 
ripening youngster such as I was at that time. The 
memory of long rides and tramps over that limitless veld 
returns to me, lonely in spite of the creaking, lumbering 
waggons and transport riders and Kaffirs that followed 
behind. South Africa is a country not only of immense 
spaces but of an immense spaciousness. Everything is 
far apart; even the grass blades are far apart. Some- 
times one crossed wide stony wastes, sometimes came 
great stretches of tall, yellow-green grass, wheel-high, 
sometimes a little green patch of returning cultivation 
drew nearer for an hour or so, sometimes the blundering, 
toilsome passage of a torrent interrupted our slow onward 
march. And constantly one saw long lines of torn and 
twisted barbed wire stretching away and away, and here 
and there one found archipelagoes as it were in this dry 
ocean of the skeletons of cattle, and there were places 

118 



WAR 

where troops had halted and their scattered ration-tins 
shone like diamonds in the sunshine. Occasionally I 
struck talk, some returning prisoner, some group of dis- 
charged British soldiers become carpenters or bricklayers 
again and making their pound a day by the work of re- 
building; always everyone was ready to expatiate upon 
the situation. Usually, however, I was alone, thinking 
over this immense now vanished tornado of a war and this 
equally astonishing work of healing that was following it. 
I became keenly interested in all this great business, 
and thought at first of remaining indefinitely in Africa. 
Repatriation was presently done and finished. I had 
won Milner's good opinion, and he was anxious for me to 
go on working in relation to the labor difficulty that rose 
now more and more into prominence behind the agricul- 
tural re-settlement. But when I faced that I found my- 
self in the middle of a tangle infinitely less simple than 
putting back an agricultural population upon its land. 



5 

For the first time in my life I was really looking at 
the social fundamental of Labor. 

There is something astonishingly naive in the uncon- 
sciousness with which people of our class float over the 
great economic realities. All my life I had been hearing 
of the Working Classes, of Industrialism, of Labor Prob- 
lems and the Organization of Labor; but it was only now 
in South Africa, in this chaotic, crude illuminating period 
of putting a smashed and desolated social order together 
again, that I perceived these familiar phrases represented 

119 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

something something stupendously real. There were, 
I began to recognize, two sides to civilization; one tradi- 
tional, immemorial, universal, the side of the homestead, 
the side I had been seeing and restoring; and there was 
another, ancient, too, but never universal, as old at least 
as the mines of Syracuse and the building of the pyramids, 
the side that came into view when I emerged from the 
dusty station and sighted the squat shanties and slender 
chimneys of Johannesburg, that uprooted side of social 
life, that accumulation of toilers divorced from the soil, 
which is Industrialism and Labor and which carries such 
people as ourselves, and whatever significance and possi- 
bilities we have, as an elephant carries its rider. 

Now all Johannesburg and Pretoria were discussing 
Labor and nothing but Labor. Bloemfontein was in con- 
ference thereon. Our work of repatriation which had 
loomed so large on the southernward veld became here a 
business at once incidental and remote. One felt that a 
little sooner or a little later all that would resume and go 
on, as the rains would, and the veld-grass. But this was 
something less kindred to the succession of the seasons 
and the soil. This was a hitch in the upper fabric. Here 
in the great ugly mine-scarred basin of the Rand, with its 
bare hillsides, half the stamps were standing idle, ma- 
chinery was eating its head off, time and water were 
running to waste amidst an immense exasperated dispu- 
tation. Something had given way. The war had spoilt 
the Kaffir "boy," he was demanding enormous wages, he 
was away from Johannesburg, and above all, he would no 
longer "go underground." 

Implicit in all the argument and suggestion about me 
was this profoundly suggestive fact that some people, 

120 



WAR 

quite a lot of people, scores of thousands, had to "go 
underground." Implicit too always in the discourse was 
the assumption that the talker or writer in question 
wasn't for a moment to be expected to go there. Those 
others, whoever they were, had to do that for us. Before 
the war it had been the artless Portuguese Kaffir, but he 
alas! was being diverted to open-air employment at 
Delagoa Bay. Should we raise wages and go on with the 
fatal process of "spoiling the workers/' should we by 
imposing a tremendous hut-tax drive the Kaffir into our 
toils, should we carry the labor hunt across the Zambesi 
into Central Africa, should we follow the lead of Lord 
Kitchener and Mr. Creswell and employ the rather dan- 
gerous unskilled white labor (with " ideas " about strikes 
and socialism) that had drifted into Johannesburg, should 
we do tremendous things with labor-saving machinery, or 
were we indeed (desperate yet tempting resort!) to bring 
in the cheap Indian or Chinese coolie? 

Steadily things were drifting towards that last tremen- 
dous experiment. There was a vigorous opposition in 
South Africa and in England (growing there to an outcry), 
but behind that proposal was the one vitalizing conviction 
in modern initiative: indisputably it would pay, it 
would pay! . . . 

The human mind has a much more complex and 
fluctuating process than most of those explanatory people 
who write about psychology would have us believe. 
Instead of that simple, direct movement, like the move- 
ment of a point, forward and from here to there, one's 
thoughts advance like an army, sometimes extended over 
an enormous front, sometimes in echelon, sometimes 
bunched in a column throwing out skirmishing clouds of 

121 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

emotion, some flying and soaring, some crawling, some 
stopping and dying. ... In this matter of Labor, for 
example, I have thought so much, thought over the ground 
again and again,eome into it from this way and from that 
way, that for the life of me I find it impossible to state 
at all clearly how much I made of these questions during 
that Johannesburg time. I cannot get back into those 
ancient ignorances, revive my old astonishments and 
discoveries. Certainly I envisaged the whole process much 
less clearly than I do now, ignored difficulties that have 
since entangled me, regarded with a tremendous per- 
plexity aspects that have now become lucidly plain. I 
came back to England confused, and doing what confused 
people are apt to do, clinging to an inadequate phrase that 
seemed at any rate to define a course of action. The word 
"efficiency" had got hold of me. All our troubles came, 
one assumed, from being "inefficient." One turned 
towards politics with a bustling air, and was all for 
fault-finding and renovation. 

I sit here at my desk, pen in hand, and irace figures 
on the blotting-paper, and wonder how much I under- 
stood at that time. I came back to England to work 
on the side of "efficiency," that is quite certain. A little 
later I was writing articles and letters about it, so that 
much is documented. But I tjiink I must have appre- 
hended too by that time some vague outline at least of 
those wider issues in the saecular conflict between the new 
forms of human association and the old, to which con- 
temporary politics and our national fate are no more 
than transitory eddies and rufflings of the surface waters. 
It was all so nakedly plain there. On the one hand was 
the primordial, on the other the rankly new. The farm 

122 



WAR 

on the veld stood on the veld, a thing of the veld, a thing 
rooted and established there and nowhere else. The 
dusty, crude, brick-field desolation of the Rand on the 
other hand did not really belong with any particularity 
to South Africa at all. It vfas one witS our camps and 
armies. It was part of something else, something still 
bigger: a monstrous shadowy arm had thrust out from 
Europe and torn open this country, erected these chim- 
neys, piled these heaps and sent the ration-tins and 
cartridge-cases to follow them. It was gigantic kindred 
with that ancient predecessor which had built the walls 
of Zimbabwe. And this hungry, impatient demand for 
myriads of toilers, this threatening inundation of black or 
brown or yellow bond-serfs was just the natural voice of 
this colossal system to which I belonged, which had 
brought me hither, and which I now perceived I did not 
even begin to understand. . . . 

One day when asking my way to some forgotten destina- 
tion, I had pointed out to me the Grey and Roberts Deep 
Mine. Some familiarity in the name set me thinking 
until I recsdled that this was the mine in which I had 
once heard Lady Ladislaw confesg large holdings, this 
mine in which gangs of indentured Chinamen would pres- 
ently be sweating to pay the wages of the game-keepers 
and roadmenders in Burnmore Park. . . . 

Yes, this was what I was taking in at that time, but 
it found me inexpressive; what I was saying on my re- 
turn to England gave me no intimation of the broad 
conceptions growing in my mind. I came back to be one 
of the many scores of energetic and ambitious young 
men who were parroting " Efficiency, " stirring up people 
'and more particularly stirring up themselves with the 

123 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

utmost vigor, and all the time within their secret hearts 
more than a little at a loss. . . . 



6 



While I had been in South Africa circumstances had 
conspired to alter my prospects in life very greatly. 
Unanticipated freedoms and opportunities had come to 
me, and it was no longer out of the question for me to 
think of a parliamentary career. Our fortunes had 
altered. My father had ceased to be rector of Burnmore, 
and had become a comparatively wealthy man. 

My second cousin, Reginald Stratton, had been drowned 
in Finland, and his father had only survived the shock 
of his death a fortnight; his sister, Arthur Mason's first 
wife, had died in giving birth to a stillborn child the year 
before, and my father found himself suddenly the owner 
of all that large stretch of developing downland and build- 
ing land which old Reginald had bought between Shad- 
dock and Golding on the south and West Esher station on 
the north, and in addition of considerable investments in 
northern industrials. It was an odd collusion of mor- 
tality; we had had only the coldest relations with our 
cousins, and now abruptly through their commercial and 
speculative activities, which we had always affected to 
despise and ignore, I was in a position to attempt the 
realization of my old, political ambitions. 

My cousins' house had not beer\ to my father's taste. 
He had let it, and I came to a new home in a pleasant, 
plain red-brick house, a hundred and fifty years old per- 
haps, on an open and sunny hillside, sheltered by trees 

124 



WAR 

eastward and northward, a few miles to the south-west of 
Guilford. It had all the gracious proportions, the dig- 
nified simplicity, the roomy comfort of the good build- 
ing of that time. It looked sunward; we breakfasted in 
sunshine in the library, and outside was an old wall with 
peach trees and a row of pillar roses heavily in flower. 
I had a little feared this place; Burnmore Rectory had 
been so absolutely home to me with its quiet serenities, 
its ample familiar garden, its greenhouses and intimately 
known corners, but I perceived I might have trusted 
my father's character to preserve his essential atmos- 
phere. He was so much himself as I remembered him 
that I did not even observe for a day or so that he had 
not only aged considerably but discarded the last vestiges 
of clerical costume in his attire. He met me in front of 
the house and led me into a wide panelled hall and wrung 
my hand again and again, deeply moved and very inex- 
pressive. "Did you have a good journey?" he asked 
again and again, with tears in his eyes. "Did you have 
a comfortable journey?" 

" I've not seen the house," said I. " It looks fine." 

"You're a man," he said, and patted my shoulder. 
"Of course! It was at Burnmore." 

4 'You 1 re not changed," I said. "You're not an atom 
changed." 

"How could I?" he replied. "Come come and have 
something to eat. You ought to have something to eat." 

We talked of the house and what a good house it was, 
and he took me out into the garden to see the peaches and 
grape vine and then brought me back without showing 
them to me in order to greet my cousin. "It's very like 
Burnmore," he said with his eyes devouring me, "very 
9 125 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

like. A little more space and no services. No services 
at all. That makes a gap of course. There's a little 
chap about here, you'll find his name is Wednesday 
who sorts my papers and calls himself my secretary. . . . 
Not necessary perhaps but I missed the curate." 

He said he was reading more than he used to do now 
that the parish was off his hands, and he was preparing 
material for a book. It was, he explained later, to take 
the form of a huge essay ostensibly on Secular Canons, 
but its purport was to be no less than the complete 
secularization of the Church of England. At first he 
wanted merely to throw open the cathedral chapters to 
distinguished laymen, irrespective of their theological 
opinions, and to make each English cathedral a centre of 
intellectual activity, a college as it were of philosophers 
and writers. But afterwards his suggestions grew bolder, 
the Articles of Religion were to be set aside, the creeds 
made optional even for the clergy. His dream became 
more and more richly picturesque until at last he saw 
Canterbury a realized Thelema, and St. Paul's a new 
Academic Grove. He was to work at that remarkable 
proposal intermittently for many years, and to leave 
it at last no more than a shapeless mass of memoranda, 
fragmentary essays, and selected passages for quotation. 
Yet mere patchwork and scrapbook as it would be, I 
still have some thought of publishing it. There is a 
large human charity about it, a sun too broad and warm, a 
reasonableness too wide and free perhaps for the timid 
convulsive quality of our time, yet all good as good wine 
for the wise. Is it incredible that a day should come when 
our great grey monuments to the Norman spirit should 
cease to be occupied by narrow-witted parsons and be- 

126 



WAR 

sieged by narrow-souled dissenters, the soul of our race in 
exile from the home and place our fathers built for it? ... 

If he was not perceptibly changed, I thought my cousin 
Jane had become more than a little sharper and stiffer. 
She did not like my uncle's own personal secularization, 
and still less the glimpses she got of the ampler intentions 
of his book. She missed the proximity to the church and 
her parochial authority. But she was always a silent 
woman, and made her comments with her profile and not 
with her tongue. . . . 

"I'm glad you've come back, Stephen," said my father 
as we sat together after dinner and her departure, with 
port and tall silver candlesticks and shining mahogany 
between us. "I've missed you. I've done my best to 
follow things out there. I've got, I suppose, every press 
mention there's been of you during the war and since. 
I've subscribed to two press-cutting agencies, so that if 
one missed you the other fellow got you. Perhaps you'll 
like to read them over one of these days. . . . You see, 
there's not been a soldier in the family since the Peninsular 
War, and so I've been particularly interested. . . . You 
must tell me all the things you're thinking of, and what 
you mean to do. This last stuff this Chinese business 
it puzzles me. I want to know what you think of it and 
everything." 

I did my best to give him my ideas such as they were. 
And as they were still very vague ideas I have no doubt 
he found me rhetorical. I can imagine myself talking 
of the White Man's Burthen, and how in Africa it had 
seemed at first to sit rather staggeringly upon our under- 
trained shoulders. I spoke of slackness and planless- 
ness. 

127 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"I've come back in search of efficiency." I have no 
doubt I said that at any rate. 

"We're trying to run this big empire," I may have 
explained, "with under-trained, under-educated, poor- 
spirited stuff, and we shall come a cropper unless we raise 
our quality. I'm still Imperialist, more than ever I was. 
But I'm an Imperialist on a different footing. I've no 
great illusions left about the Superiority of the Anglo- 
Saxons. All that has gone. But I do think it will be a 
monstrous waste, a disaster to human possibilities if this 
great liberal-spirited empire sprawls itself asunder for the 
want of a little gravity and purpose. And it's here the 
^work has to be done, the work of training and bracing up 
and stimulating the public imagination. . . ." 

Yes, that would be the sort of thing I should have said 
in those days. There's an old National Review on my 
desk as I write, containing an article by me with some of 
those very phrases in it. I have been looking at it in 
order to remind myself of my own forgotten eloquence. 

"Yes," I remember my father saying. "Yes." And 
then after reflection, "But those coolies, those Chinese 
coolies. You can't build up an imperial population by 
importing coolies." 

"I don't like that side of the business myself," I said. 
"It's detail." 

"Perhaps. But the Liberals will turn you out on it 
next year. And then start badgering public houses and 
looting the church. . . . And then this Tariff talk! 
Everybody on our side seems to be mixing up the unity 
of the empire with tariffs. It's a pity. Salisbury 
wouldn't have stood it. Unity! Unity depends on a 
common literature and a common language and common 

128 



WAR 

ideas and sympathies. It doesn't unite people for them 
to be forced to trade with each other. Trading isn't 
friendship. I don't trade with my friends and I don't 
make friends with my tradesmen. Natural enemies 
polite of course but antagonists. Are you keen over this 
Tariff stuff, Steve?" 

"Not a bit," I said. "That too seems a detail." 
"It doesn't seem to be keeping its place as a detail," 
said my father. "Very few men can touch tariffs and not 
get a little soiled. I hate all this international sharping, 
all these attempts to get artificial advantages, all this 
making poor people buy inferior goods dear, in the name 
of the flag. If it comes to that, damn the flag ! Custom- 
houses are ugly things, Stephen; the dirty side of nation- 
ality. Dirty things, ignoble, cross, cunning things. . . . 
They wake you up in the small hours and rout over your 
bags. ... An imperial people ought to be an urbane 
people, a civilizing people above such petty irritating 
things. I'd as soon put barbed wire along the footpath 
across that field where the village children go to 
school. Or claim that our mushrooms are cultivated. 
Or prosecute a Sunday-Society Cockney for picking my 
primroses. Custom-houses indeed ! It's Chinese. There 
are things a Great Country mustn't do, Stephen. A 
country like ours ought to get along without the manners 
of a hard-breathing competitive cad. ... If it can't 
I'd rather it didn't get along. . . . What's the good of a 
huckster country? it's like having a wife on the streets. 
It's no excuse that she brings you money. But since 
the peace, and that man Chamberlain's visit to Africa, 
you Imperialists seem to have got this nasty spirit all over 
you. . . . The Germans do it, you say!" 

129 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

My father shut one eye and regarded the color of his 
port against the waning light. "Let 'em," he said. . . . 
"Fancy! quoting the Germans! When I was a boy, 
there weren't any Germans. They came up after '70. 
Statecraft from Germany! And statesmen from Bir- 
mingham! German silver and Electroplated Empires. 
. . . No." 

"It's just a part of our narrow outlook," I answered 
from the hearthrug, after a pause. "It's because we're 
so limited that everyone is translating the greatness 
of empire into preferential trading and jealousy of Ger- 
many. It's for something bigger than that that I've 
returned." 

"Those big things come slowly," said my father. And 
then with a sigh: " Age after age. They seem at times 
to be standing still. Good things go with the bad; 
bad things come with the good. ..." 

I remember him saying that as though I could still hear 
him. 

It must have been after dinner, for he was sitting, 
duskily indistinct, against the light, with a voice coming 
out to him. The candles had not been brought in, and 
the view one saw through the big plate glass window 
behind him was very clear and splendid. Those little 
Wealden hills in Surrey and Sussex assume at times, for 
all that by Swiss standards they are the merest ridges of 
earth, the dignity and mystery of great mountains. 
Now, the crests of Hindhead and Blackdown, purple 
black against the level gold of the evening sky, might 
have been some high-flung boundary chain. Nearer there 
gathered banks and pools of luminous lavender-tinted 
mist out of which hills of pinewood rose like islands out of 

130 



WAR 

the sea. The intervening spaces were magnified to con- 
tinental dimensions. And the closer lowlier things over 
which we looked, the cottages below us, were grey and 
black and dim, pierced by a few luminous orange windows 
and with a solitary street lamp shining like a star; the 
village might have been nestling a mountain's height 
below instead of a couple of hundred feet. 

I left my hearthrug, and walked to the window to 
survey this. 

" Who's got all that land stretching away there; that 
little blunted sierra of pines and escarpments I mean?" 

My father halted for an instant in his answer, and 
glanced over his shoulder. 

"Wardingham and Baxter share all those coppices, " 
he remarked. "They come up to my corner on each 
side." 

"But the dark heather and pine land beyond. With 
just the gables of a house among the trees." 

"Oh? that'' he said with a careful note of indifference. 
"That's Justin. You know Justin. He used to come 
to Burnmore Park." 



CHAPTER THE SIXTH 
LADY MARY JUSTIN 



I DID not see Lady Mary Justin for nearly seven 
months after my return to England. Of course I 
had known that a meeting was inevitable, and I had taken 
that very carefully into consideration before I decided 
to leave South Africa. But many things had happened 
to me during those crowded years, so that it seemed 
possible that that former magic would no longer sway 
and distress me. Not only had new imaginative interests 
taken hold of me but I had parted from adolescence. I 
was a man. I had been through a great war, seen death 
abundantly, seen hardship and passion, and known hunger 
and shame and desire. A hundred disillusioning reve- 
lations of the quality of life had come to me; once for 
example when we were taking some people to the con- 
centration camps it had been necessary to assist at the 
premature birth of a child by the wayside, a startlingly 
gory and agonizing business for a young man to deal with. 
Heavens! how it shocked me! I could give a score of 
such grim pictures and queer pictures. . . . 

And it wasn't only the earthlier aspects of the life 
about me but also of the life within me that I had been 

132 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

discovering. The first wonder and innocence, the worship- 
ping, dawn-clear passion of youth, had gone out of me 
for ever. . . . 

2 

We met at a dinner. It was at a house the Tarvrilles 
had taken for the season in Mayfair. The drawing- 
room was a big white square apartment with several big 
pictures and a pane of plate glass above the fireplace 
in the position in which one usually finds a mirror; this 
showed another room beyond, containing an exceptionally 
large, gloriously colored portrait in pastel larger than 
I had ever thought pastels could be. Except for the 
pictures both rooms were almost colorless. It was a 
brilliant dinner, with a predominating note of ruby; three 
of the women wore ruby velvet; and Ellersley was present 
just back from Arabia, and Ethel Manton, Lady Hendon 
and the Duchess of Clynes. I was greeted by Lady 
Tarvrille, spoke to Ellersley and Lady Hendon, and then 
discovered a lady in a dress of blue and pearls standing 
quite still under a picture in the opposite corner of the 
room and regarding me attentively. It was Mary. Some 
man was beside her, a tall grey man with a broad crimson 
ribbon, and I think he must have spoken of me to her. It 
was as if she had just turned to look at me. 

Constantly during those intervening months I had been 
thinking of meeting her. None the less there was a shock, 
not so much of surprise as of deferred anticipation. 
There she stood like something amazingly forgotten that 
was now amazingly recalled. She struck me in that 
brief crowded instant of recognition as being exactly 

133 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

the person she had been when we had made love in 
Burnmore Park; there were her eyes, at once frank and 
sidelong, the old familiar sweep of her hair, the old 
familiar tilt of the chin, the faint humor of her lip, and 
at the same time she seemed to be something altogether 
different from the memories I had cherished, she was 
something graver, something inherently more splendid 
than they had recorded. Her face lit now with recogni- 
tion. 

I went across to her at once, with some dull obviousness 
upon my lips. 

"And so you are back from Africa at last," she said, 
still unsmiling. "I saw about you in the papers. . . . 
You had a good time." 

"I had great good luck," I replied. 

"I never dreamt when we were boy and girl together 
that you would make a soldier." 

I think I said that luck made soldiers. 

Then I think we found a difficulty in going on with 
our talk, and began a dull little argument that would 
have been stupidly egotistical on my part if it hadn't 
been so obviously merely clumsy, about luck making 
soldiers or only finding them out. I saw that she had 
not intended to convey any doubt of my military capacity 
but only of that natural insensitiveness which is supposed 
to be needed in a soldier. But our minds were remote 
from the words upon our lips. We were like aphasiacs 
who say one thing while they intend something altogether 
different. The impulse that had brought me across to 
her had brought me up to a wall of impossible utterances. 
It was with a real quality of rescue that our hostess came 
between us to tell us our partners at the dinner-table, and 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

to introduce me to mine. " You shall have him again on 
your other side," she said to Lady Mary with a charming 
smile for me, treating me as if I was a lion in request 
instead of the mere outsider I was. 

We talked very little at dinner. Both of us I think 
were quite unequal to the occasion. Whatever meetings, 
we had imagined, certainly neither of us had thought 
of this very possible encounter, a long disconcerting 
hour side by side. I began to remember old happenings 
with an astonishing vividness ; there within six inches of 
me was the hand I had kissed; her voice was the same to 
its lightest shade, her hair flowed off her forehead with 
the same amazingly familiar wave. Was she too remem- 
bering? But I perhaps had changed altogether. . . . 

" Why did you go away as you did?" she asked abruptly, 
when for a moment we were isolated conversationally. 
"Why did you never write?" 

She had still that phantom lisp. 

"What else could I do?" 

She turned away from me and answered the man on her 
left, who had just addressed her. . . . 

When the mid-dinner change came we talked a little 
about indifferent things, making a stiff conversation like a 
bridge over a torrent of unspoken intimacies. We dis- 
cussed something; I think Lady Tarvrille's flowers and the 
Cape Flora and gardens. She told me she had a Japanese 
garden with three Japanese gardeners. They were won- 
derful little men to watch. "Humming-bird gardeners," 
she called them. "They wear their native costume." 

"We are your neighbors in Surrey," she said, going 
off abruptly from that. "We are quite near to your 
father." 

135 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

She paused with that characteristic effect of delibera- 
tion in her closed lips. Then she added: "I can see 
the trees behind your father's house from the window 
of my room." 

"Yes," I said. ' You take all our southward skyline." 
% She turned her face to me with the manner of a great 
lady adding a new acquaintance to her collection. But 
her eyes met mine very steadily and intimately. "Mr. 
Stratton," she said it was the first time in her life she 
had called me that "when we come back to Surrey I 
want you to come and see me and tell me of all the things 
you are going to do. Will you?" 



3 

That meeting, that revival, must have been late in 
November or early in December. Already by that time 
I had met your mother. I write to you, little son, not 
to you as you are now, but to the man you are someday 
to be. I write to understand myself, and, so far as I can 
understand, to make you understand. So that I want 
you to go back with me for a time into the days before 
your birth, to think not of that dear spirit of love who 
broods over you three children, that wise, sure mother who 
rules your life, but of a young and slender girl, Rachel 
More, younger then than you will be when at last this 
story comes into your hands. For unless you think of her 
as being a girl, if you let your present knowledge of her 
fill out this part in our story, you will fail to understand 
the proportions of these two in my life. So I shall write 
of her here as Rachel More, as if she were someone as 

136 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

completely dissociated from yourself as Lady Mary; 
as if she were someone in the story of my life who had as 
little to do with yours. 

I had met her in September. The house my father 
lived in is about twelve miles away from your mother's 
home at Ridinghanger, and I was taken over by P 
Restall in his motor-car. Restall had just become a 
convert to this new mode of locomotion, and he was very 
active with a huge, malignant-looking French car that 
opened behind, and had a kind of poke bonnet and all 
sorts of features that have since disappeared from the 
automobile world. He took everyone that he could lay 
hands upon for rides, he called it extending their range, 
and he called upon everyone else to show off the car; 
he was responsible for more introduction and social ad- 
mixture in that part of Surrey than had occurred during 
the previous century. We punctured in the Ridinghanger 
drive, Restall did his own repairs, and so it was we stayed 
for nearly four hours and instead of a mere caller I became 
a familiar friend of the family. 

Your mother then was still not eighteen, a soft white 
slip of being, tall, slender, brown-haired and silent, with 
very still deep dark eyes. She and your three aunts 
formed a very gracious group of young women indeed; 
Alice then as now the most assertive, with a gay initiative 
and a fluent tongue; Molly already a sun-brown gipsy, 
and Norah still a pig-tailed thing of lank legs and wild 
embraces and the pinkest of swift pink blushes; your 
uncle Sidney, with his shy lank moodiness, acted the 
brotherly part of a foil. There were several stray visitors, 
young men and maidens, there were always stray visitors 
irt those days at Ridinghanger, and your grandmother, 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

rosy and bright-eyed, maintained a gentle flow of creature 
comforts and kindly but humorous observations. I do not 
remember your grandfather on this occasion; probably he 
wasn't there. 

There was tea, and we played tennis and walked about 
occasionally visited Restall, who was getting dirtier 
and dirtier, and crosser and crosser at his repairs, and 
spreading a continually more remarkable assemblage of 
parts and instruments over the grass about him. He 
looked at last more like a pitch in the Caledonian market 
than a decent country gentleman paying an afternoon call. 
And then back to more tennis and more talk. We fell 
into a discussion of Tariff Reform as we sat taking tea. 
Two of the visitor youths were strongly infected by the 
new teachings which were overshadowing the outlook of 
British Imperialism. Some mean phrase about not con- 
quering Africa for the German bagman, some ugly turn 
of thought that at a touch brought down Empire to the 
level of a tradesman's advantage, fell from one of them, 
and stirred me to sudden indignation. I began to talk 
of things that had been gathering in my mind for some 
time. 

I do not know what I said. It was in the vein of 
my father's talk no doubt. But I think that for once I 
may have been eloquent. And in the midst of my de- 
mand for ideals in politics that were wider and deeper 
than artful buying and selling, that looked beyond a vulgar 
aggression and a churl's dread and hatred of foreign 
things, while I struggled to say how great and noble 
a thing empire might be, I saw Rachel's face. This, it 
was manifest, was a new kind of talk to her. Her dark 
eyes were alight with a beautiful enthusiasm for what I 

138 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

was trying to say, and for what in the light of that glowing 
reception I seemed to be. 

I felt that queer shame one feels when one is taken 
suddenly at the full value of one's utmost expressions. 
I felt as though I had cheated her, was passing myself 
off for something as great and splendid as the Empire 
of my dreams. It is hard to dissociate oneself from the 
fine things to which one aspires. I stopped almost 
abruptly. Dumbly her eyes bade me go on, but when I 
spoke again it was at a lower level. . . . 

That look in Rachel's eyes remained with me. My 
mind had flashed very rapidly from the realization of 
its significance to the thought that if one could be sure 
of that, then indeed one could pitch oneself high. Rachel, 
I felt, had something for me that I needed profoundly, 
without ever having known before that I needed it. She 
had the supreme gifts of belief and devotion; in that 
instant's gleam it seemed she held them out to me. 

Never before in my life had it seemed credible to me that 
anyone could give me that, or that I could hope for such a 
gift of support and sacrifice. Love as I had known it had 
been a community and an alliance, a frank abundant meet- 
ing; but this was another kind of love that shone for an 
instant and promised, and vanished shyly out of sight as 
I and Rachel looked at one another. 

Some interruption occurred. Restall came, I think, 
blackened by progress, to drink a cup of tea and negotiate 
the loan of a kitchen skewer. A kitchen skewer it ap- 
peared was all that was needed to complete his reconstruc- 
tion in the avenue. Norah darted off for a kitchen skewer, 
while Restall drank. And then there was a drift to tennis, 
and Rachel and I were partners. All this time I was 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

in a state of startled attention towards her, full of this 
astounding impression that something wonderful and 
unprecedented had flowed out from her towards my life, 
full too of doubts now whether that shining response had 
ever occurred, whether some trick of light and my brain 
had not deceived me. I wanted tremendously to talk to 
her, and did not know how to begin in any serious fashion. 
Beyond everything I wanted to see again that deep onset 
of belief. . . . 

"Come again," said your grandmother to me, "come 
again!" after she had tried in vain to make Restall stay 
for an informal supper. I was all for staying, but Restall 
said darkly, "There are the Lamps/' 

"But they will be all right," said Mrs. More. 

"I can't trust 'em," said Restall, with a deepening 
gloom. "Not after that" The motor-car looked self- 
conscious and uncomfortable, but said nothing by way 
of excuse, and Restall took me off in it like one whose 
sun has set for ever. "I wouldn't be surprised," said 
Restall as we went down the drive, "if the damned 
thing turned a somersault. It might do anything." 
Those were the brighter days of motoring. 

The next time I went over released from Restall's 
limitations, and stayed to a jolly family supper. I 
found remarkably few obstacles in my way to a better 
acquaintance with Rachel. You see I was an entirely 
eligible and desirable young man in Mrs. More's eyes. . . . 



When I recall these long past emotions again, I am 
struck by the profound essential difference between my 

140 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

feelings for your mother and for Mary. They were so 
different that it seems scarcely rational to me that they 
should be called by the same name. Yet each was love, 
profoundly deep and sincere. The contrast lies, I think, 
in our relative ages, and our relative maturity; that 
altered the quality of all our emotions. The one was the 
love of a man of six-and-twenty, exceptionally seasoned 
and experienced and responsible for his years, for a girl 
still at school, a girl attractively beautiful, mysterious and 
unknown to him; the other was the love of coevals, who 
had been playmates and intimate companions, and of 
whom the woman was certainly as capable and wilful as 
the man. 

Now it is exceptional for men to love women of their 
own age, it is the commoner thing that they should love 
maidens younger and often much younger than them- 
selves. This is true more particularly of our own class; 
the masculine thirties and forties marry the feminine 
twenties, all the prevailing sentiment and usage between 
the sexes rises naturally out of that. We treat this 
seniority as though it were a virile characteristic; we 
treat the man as though he were a natural senior, we 
expect a weakness, a timid deference, in the girl. I 
and Mary had loved one another as two rivers run to- 
gether on the way to the" sea, we had grown up side 
by side to the moment when we kissed; but I sought your 
mother, I watched her and desired her and chose her, 
very tenderly and worshipfully indeed, to be mine. I 
do not remember that there was any corresponding inten- 
tion in my mind to be hers. I do not think that that 
idea came in at all. She was something to be won, some- 
thing playing an inferior and retreating part. And I 
10 141 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

was artificial in all my attitudes to her, I thought of what 
would interest her, what would please her, I knew from 
the outset that what she saw in me to rouse that deep, 
shy glow of exaltation in her face was. illusion, illusion it 
was my business to sustain. And so I won her, and long 
years had to pass, years of secret loneliness and hidden 
feelings, of preposterous pretences and covert perplexities, 
before we escaped from that crippling tradition of in- 
equality and looked into one another's eyes with under- 
standing and forgiveness, a woman and a man. 

I made no great secret of the interest and attraction 
I found in Rachel, and the Mores made none of their 
entire approval of me. I walked over on the second 
occasion, and Ridinghanger opened out, a great flower 
of genial appreciation that I came alone, hiding nothing 
of its dawning perception that it was Rachel in particular 
I came to see. 

Your grandmother's match-making was as honest as 
the day. There was the same salad of family and visitors 
as on the former afternoon, and this time I met Freshman, 
who was destined to marry Alice; there was tea, tennis, 
and, by your grandmother's suggestion, a walk to see 
the sunset from the crest of the hill. Rachel and I walked 
across the breezy moorland together, while I talked 
and tempted her to talk. 

What, I wonder, did we talk about? English scenery, 
I think, and African scenery and the Weald about us, and 
the long history of the Weald and its present and future, 
and at last even a little of politics. I had never explored 
the mind of a girl of seventeen before; there was a sur- 
prise in all she knew and a delight in all she didn't know, 
and about herself a candor, a fresh simplicity of outlook 

142 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

that was sweeter than the clear air about us, sweeter than 
sunshine or the rising song of a lark. She believed so gal- 
lantly and beautifully, she was so perfectly, unaffectedly 
and certainly prepared to be a brave and noble person if 
only life would let her. And she hadn't as yet any sus- 
picion that life might make that difficult. . . . 

I went to Ridinghanger a number of times in the 
spring and early summer. I talked a great deal with 
Rachel, and still I did not make love to her. It was 
always in my mind that I would make love to her, the 
heavens and earth and all her family were propitious, 
glowing golden with consent and approval, I thought she 
was the most wonderful and beautiful thing in life, and 
her eyes, the intonation of her voice, her hurrying color 
and a hundred little involuntary signs 'told me how she 
quickened at my coming. But there was a shyness. I 
loved her as one loves and admires a white flower or a 
beautiful child some stranger's child. I felt that I 
might make her afraid of me. I had never before thought 
that to make love is a coarse thing. But still at high 
summer when I met Mary again no definite thing had been 
said between myself and Rachel. But we knew, each of 
us knew, that somewhere in a world less palpable, in fairy- 
land, in dreamland, we had met and made our vows. 



5 

You see bjw far my imagination had gone towards 
readjustment when Mary returned into my life. You 
see how strange and distant it was to meet her again, 
changed cc mpletely into the great lady she had intended 

143 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

to be, speaking to me with the restrained and practised 
charm of a woman who is young and beautiful and 
prominent and powerful and secure. There was no imme- 
diate sense of shock in that resumption of our broken 
intercourse, it seemed to me that night simply that 
something odd and curious had occurred. I do not 
remember how we parted that evening or whether we 
even saw each other after dinner was over, but from that 
hour forth Mary by insensible degrees resumed her old 
predominance in my mind. I woke up in the night and 
thought about her, and next day I found myself thinking 
of her, remembering things out of the past and recalling 
and examining every detail of the overnight encounter. 
How cold and ineffective we had been, both of us ! We 
had been like people resuming a disused and partially for- 
gotten language. Had she changed towards me ? Did she 
indeed want to see me again or was that invitation a mere 
demonstration of how entirely unimportant seeing me or 
not seeing me had become? 

Then I would find myself thinking with the utmost 
particularity of her face. Had it changed at all? Was 
it altogether changed? I seemed to have forgotten 
everything and remembered everything; that peculiar 
slight thickness of her eyelids that gave her eyes their 
tenderness, that light firmness of her lips. Of course she 
would want to talk to me, as now I perceived I wanted 
to talk to her 

Was I in love with her still? It seemed to me then 
that I was not. It had not been that hesitating fierce- 
ness, that pride and demand and doubt, whicrAis passionate 
love, that had made all my sensations strange to me as I 
sat beside her. It had been something large^ and finer, 

144 



LADY MARY JUSTIN* 

something great and embracing, a return to fellowship. 
Here beside me, veiled from me only by our transient em- 
barrassment and the tarnish of separation and silences, was 
the one person who had ever broken down the crust of 
shy insincerity which is so incurably my characteristic 
and talked intimately of the inmost things of life to me. 
I discovered now for the first time how intense had been 
my loneliness for the past five years. I discovered now 
that through all those years I had been hungry for such 
talk as Mary alone could give me. My mind was filled 
with talk, filled with things I desired to say to her; that 
chaos began to take on a multitudinous expression at the 
touch of her spirit. I began to imagine conversations 
with her, to prepare reports for her of those new worlds of 
sensation and activity I had discovered since that boyish 
parting. 

But when at last that talk came it was altogether 
different from any of those I had invented. 

She wrote to me when she came down into Surrey 
and I walked over to Martens the next afternoon. I 
found her in her own sitting-room, a beautiful charac- 
teristic apartment with tall French windows hung with 
blue curtains, a large writing-desk and a great litter of 
books. The room gave upon a broad sunlit terrace 
with a balustrading of yellowish stone, on which there 
stood great oleanders. Beyond was a flower garden and 
then the dark shadows of cypresses. She was standing 
as I came in to her, as though she had seen me coming 
across the lawns and had been awaiting my entrance. 
"I thought you might come to-day," she said, and told 
the manservant to deny her to other callers. Again she 
produced that queer effect of being at once altogether the 

145 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

same and altogether different from the Mary I had known. 
" Justin, " she said, "is in Paris. He comes back on 
Friday." I saw then that the change lay in her bearing, 
that for the easy confidence of the girl she had now the 
deliberate dignity and control of a married woman a very 
splendidly and spaciously married woman. Her manner 
had been purged of impulse. Since we had met she 
had stood, the mistress of great houses, and had dealt 
with thousands of people. 

"You walked over to me?" 

"I walked," I said. "It is nearly a straight path. 
You know it?" 

"You came over the heather beyond our pine wood," 
she confirmed. And then I think we talked some polite 
unrealities about Surrey scenery and the weather. It was 
so formal that by a common impulse we let the topic 
suddenly die. We stood through a pause, a hesitation. 
Were we indeed to go on at that altitude of cold civility? 
She turned to the window as if the view was to serve 
again. 

"Sit down," she said and dropped into a chair against 
the light, looking away from me across the wide green 
space of afternoon sunshine. I sat down on a little sofa, 
at a loss also. 

"And so," she said,- turning her face to me suddenly, 
"you come back into my life." And I was amazed to 
see that the brightness of her eyes was tears. "We've 
lived five years." 

"You," I said clumsily, "have done all sorts of things. 
I hear of you patronizing young artists organizing 
experiments in village education." 

"Yes," she said, "I've done all sorts of things. One 
146 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

has to. Forced, unreal things for the most part. You 
I expect have done all sorts of things also. . . . But 
yours have been real things. . . ." 

"All things/' I remarked sententiously, "are real. 
And all of them a little unreal. South Africa has been 
wonderful. And now it is all over one doubts if it really 
happened. Like that incredulous mood after a storm 
of passion. " 

"You've come back for good?" 

"For good. I want to do things in England." 

"Politics?" 

"If I can get into that." 

Again a pause. There came the characteristic moment 
of deliberation that I remembered so well. 

"I never meant you," she said, "to go away. . . . 
You could have written. You never answered the notes 
I sent." 

"I was frantic," I said, "with loss and jealousy. I 
wanted to forget." 

"And you forgot?" 

"I did my best." 

"I did my best," said Mary. "And now Have 

you forgotten?" 

"Nothing." 

"Nor I. I thought I had. Until I saw you again. 
I've thought of you endlessly. I've wanted to talk to 
you. We had a way of talking together. But you went 
away. You turned your back as though all that was 
nothing not worth having. You you drove home my 
marriage, Stephen. You made me know what a thing of 
sex a woman is to a man and how little else. ..." 

She paused. 

147 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"You see," I said slowly. "You had made me, as 
people say, in love with you. ... I don't know if you 
remember everything. . . ." 

She looked me in the eyes for a moment. 

"I hadn't been fair," she said with an abrupt abandon- 
ment of accusation. "But you know, Stephen, that 

n ight I meant to explain. And afterwards. . . . 

Things sometimes go as one hasn't expected them to go, 
even the things one has planned to say. I suppose I 
treated you disgustingly." 

I protested. 

"Yes," she said. "I treated you as I did and I 
thought you would stand it. I knew, I knew then as 
well as you do now that male to my female you wouldn't 
stand it, but somehow I thought there were other things. 
Things that could override that. ..." 

"Not," I said, "for a boy of one-and-twenty." 

"But in a man of twenty-six?" 

I weighed the question. "Things are different," I 
said, and then, "Yes. Anyhow now if I may come 
back penitent, to a friendship." 

We looked at one another gravely. Faintly in our 
ears sounded the music of past and distant things. We 
pretended to hear nothing of that, tried honestly to hear 
nothing of it. I had not remembered how steadfast and 
quiet her face could be. "Yes," she said, "a friendship." 

"I've always had you in my mind, Stephen," she said. 
"When I saw I couldn't marry you, it seemed to me I had 
better marry and be free of any further hope. I thought 
we could get over that. 'Let's get it over,' I thought. 
Now at any rate we have got over that." Her eyes 
verified her words a little doubtfully. "And we can talk 

148 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

and you can tell me of your life, and the things you want 
to do that make life worth living. Oh! life has been 
stupid without you, Stephen, large and expensive and aim- 
less. . . . Tell me of your politics. They say Justin 
told me you think of parliament?" 

"I want to do that. I have been thinking In 

fact I am going to stand." I found myself hesitating on 
the verge of phrases in the quality of a review article. 
It was too unreal for her presence. And yet it was this 
she seemed to want from me. "This," I said, "is a 
phase of great opportunities. The war has stirred the 
Empire to a sense of itself, to a sense of what it might be. 
Of course this Tariff Reform row is a squalid nuisance; 
it may kill out all the fine spirit again before anything is 
done. Everything will become a haggle, a chaffering of 
figures. . . . All the more reason why we should try and 
save things from the commercial traveller. If the Empire 
is anything at all, it is something infinitely more than a 
combination in restraint of trade. ..." 

"Yes," she said. "And you want to take that line. 
The high line." 

"If one does not take the high line," I said, "what does 
one go into politics for?" 

"Stephen," she smiled, "you haven't lost a sort of 

simplicity People go into politics because it looks 

important, because other people go into politics, because 
they can get titles and a sense of influence and other 
things. And then there are quarrels, old grudges to serve." 

"These are roughnesses of the surface." 

"Old Stephen!" she cried with the note of a mother. 
"They will worry you in politics." 

I laughed, "Perhaps I'm not altogether so simple," 
149 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

" Oh ! you'll get through. You have a way of going on. 
But I shall have to watch over you. I see I shall have to 
watch over you. Tell me of the things you mean to do. 
Where are you standing?" 

I began to tell her a little disjointedly of the probabil- 
ities of my Yorkshire constituency. . . . 



6 

I have a vivid vignette in my memory of my return 
to my father's house, down through the pine woods and 
by the winding path across the deep valley that sepa- 
rated our two ridges. I was thinking of Mary and 
nothing but Mary in all the world and of the friendly 
sweetness of her eyes and the clean strong sharpness of 
her voice. That sweet white figure of Rachel that had 
been creeping to an ascendancy in my imagination was 
moonlight to her sunrise. I knew it was Mary I loved 
and had always loved. I wanted passionately to be as 
she desired, the friend she demanded, that intimate 
brother and confederate, but all my heart cried out for 
her, cried out for her altogether. 

I would be her friend, I repeated to myself, I would 
be her friend. I would talk to her often, plan with her, 
work with her. I could put my meanings into her life 
and she should throw her beauty over mine. I began 
already to dream of the talk of to-morrow's meeting. . . . 

7 

And now let me go on to tell at once the thing that 
changed life for both of us altogether, that turned us 

150 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

out of the courses that seemed set for us, our spacious, 
successful and divergent ways, she to the tragedy of her 
death and I from all the prospects of the public career 
that lay before me to the work that now, toilsomely, 
inadequately and blunderingly enough, I do. It was to 
pierce and slash away the appearances of life for me, it 
was to open my way to infinite disillusionment, and 
unsuspected truths. Within a few weeks of our second 
meeting Mary and I were passionately in love with one 
another; we had indeed become lovers. The arrested 
attractions of our former love released again, drew us 
inevitably to that. We tried to seem outwardly only 
friends, with this hot glow between us. Our tormented 
secret was half discovered and half betrayed itself. 
There followed a tragi-comedy of hesitations and dis- 
united struggle. Within four months the crisis of our 
two lives was past. . . . 

It is not within my purpose to tell you, my son, of the 
particular events, the particular comings and goings, 
the chance words, the chance meetings, the fatal mo- 
mentary misunderstandings that occurred between us. 
I want to tell of something more general than that. 
This misadventure is in our strain. It is our inheritance. 
It is a possibility in the inheritance of all honest and 
emotional men and women. There are no doubt people 
altogether cynical and adventurous to whom these pas- 
sions and desires are at once controllable and permissible 
indulgences without any radiation of consequences, a 
secret and detachable part of life, and there may be 
people of convictions so strong and simple that these dis- 
turbances are eliminated, but we Strattons are of a quality 
neither so low nor so high, we stoop and rise, we are not 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

convinced about our standards, and for many generations 
to come, with us and with such people as the Christians, 
and indeed with most of our sort of people, we shall 
be equally desirous of free and intimate friendship and 
prone to blaze into passion and disaster at that proximity. 
This is one of the essential riddles in the adaptation 
of such human beings as ourselves to that greater civilized 
state of which I dream. It is the gist of my story. It 
/is one of the two essential riddles that confront our kind. 
The servitude of sex and the servitude of labor are the 
twin conditions upon which human society rests to-day, 
the two limitations upon its progress towards a greater 
social order, to that greater community, those uplands 
of light and happy freedom, towards which that Being 
who was my father yesterday, who thinks in myself 
to-day, and who will be you to-morrow and your sons 
after you, by his very nature urges and must continue to 
urge the life of mankind. The story of myself and Mary 
is a mere incident in that gigantic, scarce conscious effort 
to get clear of toils and confusions and encumbrances, and 
have our way with life. We are like little figures, dots 
ascendant upon a vast hillside; I take up our intimacy 
for an instant and hold it tinder a lens for you. I become 
more than myself then, and Mary stands for innumerable 
women. It happened yesterday, and it is just a part of 
that same history that made Edmond Stratton of the 
Hays elope with Charlotte Anstruther and get himself run 
through the body at Haddington two hundred years ago, 
which drove the Laidlaw-Christians to Virginia in '45, 
gave Stratton Street to the moneylenders when George IV. 
was Regent, and broke the heart of Margaret Stratton 
in the days when Charles the First was king. With 

152 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

our individual variations and under changed conditions 
the old desires and impulses stirred us, the old antagonisms 
confronted us, the old difficulties and sloughs and impas- 
sable places baffled us. There are times when I think 
of my history among all those widespread repeated his- 
tories, until it seems to me that the human Lover is like 
a creature who struggles for ever through a thicket with- 
out an end. . . . 

There are no universal laws of affection and desire, 
but it is manifestly true that for the most of us free 
talk, intimate association, and any real fellowship between 
men and women turns with an extreme readiness to love. 
And that being so it follows that under existing conditions 
the unrestricted meeting and companionship of men and 
women in society is a monstrous sham, a merely dangerous 
pretence of encounters. The safe reality beneath those 
liberal appearances is that a woman must be content with 
the easy friendship of other women and of one man only, 
letting a superficial friendship towards all other men veil 
impassable abysses of separation, and a man must in the 
same way have one sole woman intimate. To all other 
women he must be a little blind, a little deaf, politely in- 
attentive. He must respect the transparent, intangible, 
tacit purdah about them, respect it but never allude to it. 
To me that is an intolerable state of affairs, but it is reality. 
If you live in the spirit of any other understanding you 
will court social disaster. I suppose it is a particularly 
intolerable state of affairs to us Strattons because it is 
in our nature to want things to seem what they are. 
That translucent yet impassible purdah outrages our 
veracity. And it is plain to me that our social order 
cannot stand and is not standing the tensions it creates. 

153 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

The convention that passions and emotions are absent 
when they are palpably present broke down between 
Mary and myself, as it breaks down in a thousand other 
cases, as it breaks down everywhere. Our social life 
is honeycombed and rotten with secret hidden relation- 
ships. The rigid, the obtuse and the unscrupulously 
cunning escape; the honest passion sooner or later flares 
out and destroys. . . . Here is a difficulty that no bul- 
lying imposition of arbitrary rules on the one hand nor 
any reckless abandonment of law on the other, can solve. 
Humanity has yet to find its method in sexual things; 
it has to discover the use and the limitation of jealousy. 
And before it can even begin to attempt to find, it has to 
cease its present timid secret groping in shame and dark- 
ness and turn on the light of knowledge. None of us 
knows much and most of us do not even know what is 

known. 

\ 

8 

The house is very quiet to-day. It is your mother's 
birthday, and you three children have gone with her 
and Mademoiselle Potin into the forest to celebrate the 
occasion. Presently I shall join you. The sunlit garden, 
with its tall dreaming lilies against the trellised vines 
upon the wall, the cedars and the grassy space about 
the sundial, have that distinguished stillness, that definite, 
palpable and almost outlined emptiness which is so to 
speak your negative presence. It is like a sheet of sunlit 
colored paper out of which your figures have been cut. 
There is a commotion of birds in the jasmine, and your 
Barker reclines with an infinite tranquillity, a masterless 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

dog, upon the lawn. I take up this writing again after an 
interval of some weeks. I have been in Paris, attending' 
the Sabotage Conference, and dealing with those intricate 
puzzles of justice and discipline and the secret sources 
of contentment that have to be solved if sabotage is ever 
to vanish from labor struggles again. I think a few 
points have been made clearer in that curious riddle of 
reconciliations. . . . 

Now I resume this story. I turn over the sheets that 
were written and finished before my departure, and come 
to the notes for what is to follow. 

Perhaps my days of work in Paris have carried my 
mind on beyond the point at which I left the narrative. 
I sit as it were among a pile of memories that are now 
all disordered and mixed up together, their proper se- 
quences and connexions lost. I cannot trace the phases 
through which our mutual passion rode up through the 
restrained and dignified intentions of our friendship. 
But I know that presently we were in a white heat of 
desire. There must have been passages that I now. 
altogether forget, moments of tense transition. I am 
more and more convinced that our swiftest, intensest, 
mental changes leave far less vivid memories than im- 
pressions one receives when one is comparatively passive. 
And of this phase in my life of which I am now telling 
I have clear memories of a time when we talked like 
brother and sister, or like angels if you will, and hard upon 
that came a time when we were planning in all our mo- 
ments together how and when and where we might meet 
in secret and meet again. 

Things drift with a phantom-like uncertainty into my 
mind and pass again; those fierce motives of our transi- 

155 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tion have lost now all stable form and feature, but I 
believe there was a curious tormenting urgency in our 
jealousy of those others, of Justin on my part and of 
Rachel on hers. At first we had talked quite freely about 
Rachel, had discussed my conceivable marriage with her. 
We had indeed a little forced that topic, as if to reassure 
ourselves of the honesty of our new footing. But the 
force that urged us nearer pervaded all our being. It was 
hard enough to be barred apart, to snatch back our hands 
from touching, to avoid each other's eyes, to hurry a little 
out of the dusk towards the lit house and its protecting 
servants, but the constant presence and suggestion of those 
others from whom there were no bars, or towards whom 
bars could be abolished at a look, at an impulse, exacer- 
bated, that hardship, roused a fierce insatiable spirit of 
revolt within us. At times we grew angry with each 
other's formalism, came near to quarrelling. . . . 

I associate these moods with the golden stillnesses of a 
prolonged and sultry autumn, and with slowly falling 
leaves. . . . 

I will not tell you how that step was taken, it matters 
very little to my story, nor will I tell which one of us it 
was first broke the barriers down. 



9 

But I do want to tell you certain things. I want to 
tell you them because they are things that affect you 
closely. There was almost from the first a difference 
between Mary and myself in this, that I wanted to be 
public about our love, I wanted to be open and defiant, 

156 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

and she hesitated. She wanted to be secret. She 
wanted to keep me; I sometimes think that she was 
moved to become my mistress because she wanted to 
keep me. But she also wanted to keep everything else 
in her life, her position, her ample freedoms and wealth 
and dignity. Our love was to be a secret cavern, Endym- 
ion's cave. I was ready enough to do what I could to 
please her, and for a time I served that secrecy, lied, pre- 
tended, agreed to false addresses, assumed names, and 
tangled myself in a net-work of furtive proceedings. 
These are things that poison and consume honest love. 

You will learn soon enough as you grow to be a man 
that beneath the respectable assumptions of our social life 
there is an endless intricate world of subterfuge and 
hidden and perverted passion, for all passion that 
wears a mask is perversion and that thousands of 
people of our sort are hiding and shamming about their 
desires, their gratifications, their true relationships. I 
do not mean the open offenders, for they are mostly 
honest and gallant people, but the men and women who 
sin in the shadows, the people who are not clean and 
scandalous, but immoral and respectable. This under- 
world is not for us. I wish that I who have looked into 
it could in some way inoculate you now against the 
repetition of my misadventure. We Strattons are day- 
light men, and if I work now for widened facilities of 
divorce, for an organized freedom and independence of 
women, and greater breadth of toleration, it is because 
I know in my own person the degradations, the falsity, the 
bitterness, that can lurk beneath the inflexible pretentions 
of the established code to-day. 

And I want to tell you too of something altogether 
11 157 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

unforeseen that happened to us, and that was this, that 
from the day that passion carried us and we became in 
the narrower sense of the word lovers, all the wider 
interests we had in common, our political intentions, our 
impersonal schemes, began to pass out of our intercourse. 
Our situation closed upon us like a trap and hid the sky. 
Something more intense had our attention by the feet, 
and we used our wings no more. I do not think that we 
even had the real happiness and beauty and delight of one 
another. Because, I tell you, there is no light upon kiss 
or embrace that is not done with pride. I do not know 
why it should be so, but people of our race and quality are 
a little ashamed of mere gratification in love. Always 
we seem in my memory to have been whispering with 
flushed cheeks, and discussing interminably situation. 
Had something betrayed us, might something betray, was 
this or that sufficiently cunning? Had we perhaps left a 
footmark or failed to burn a note, was the second footman 
who was detailed as my valet even now pausing astonished 
in the brushing of my clothes with our crumpled secret 
in his hand? Between myself and the clear vision of this 
world about me this infernal net-work of precautions 
spread like a veil. 

And it was not only a matter of concealments but 
of positive deceptions. The figure of Justin comes back 
to me. It is a curious thing that in spite of our bitter 
antagonism and the savage jealousy we were to feel for 
one another, there has always been, and there remains 
now in my thought of him, a certain liking, a regret at 
our opposition, a quality of friendliness. His broad face, 
which the common impression and the caricaturist make 
so powerful and eagle-like, is really not a brutal or heavy 

158 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

face at all. It is no doubt aquiline, after the fashion of 
an eagle-owl, the mouth and chin broad and the eyes very 
far apart, but there is a minute puckering of the brows 
which combines with that queer streak of brown dis- 
coloration that runs across his cheek and into the white 
of his eyes, to give something faintly plaintive and pitiful 
to his expression, an effect enhanced by the dark softness 
of his eyes. They are gentle eyes; it is absurd to suppose 
them the eyes of a violently forceful man. And indeed 
they do not belie Justin. It is not by vehemence or 
pressure that his wealth and power have been attained; 
it is by the sheer detailed abundance of his mind. In 
that queer big brain of his there is something of the 
calculating boy and not a little of the chess champion; 
he has a kind of financial gift, he must be rich, and grows 
richer. What else is there for him to do? How many 
times have I not tried to glance carelessly at his face and 
scrutinize that look in his eyes, and ask myself was that 
his usual look, or was it lit by an instinctive jealousy? 
Did he perhaps begin to suspect? I had become a per- 
sistent visitor in the house, he might well be jealous 
of such minor favors as she showed me, for with him she 
talked but little and shared no thoughts. His manner 
with her was tinctured by an habituated despair. They 
were extraordinarily polite and friendly with one an- 
other. . . . 

I tried a hundred sophistications of my treachery to 
him. I assured myself that a modern woman is mistress 
and owner of herself; no chattel, and so forth. But he 
did not think so, and neither she nor I were behaving as 
though we thought so. In innumerable little things we 
were doing our best tacitly to reassure him. And so you 

159 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

see me shaking hands with this man, affecting an interest 
in his topics and affairs, staying in his house, eating his 
food and drinking his wine, that I might be the nearer to 
his wife. It is not the first time that has been done in 
the world, there are esoteric codes to justify all I did; I 
perceive there are types of men to whom such relationships 
are attractive by the very reason of their illicit excitement. 
But we Strattons are honest people, there is no secretive 
passion in our blood; this is no game for us; never you 
risk the playing of it, little son, big son as you will be 
when you read this story. Perhaps, but I hope indeed 
not, this may reach you too late to be a warning, come to 
you in mid-situation. Go through with it then, inheritor 
of mine, and keep as clean as you can, follow the warped 
honor that is still left to you and if you can, come out 
of the tangle. . . . 

It is not only Justin haunts the memories of that furtive 
time, but Rachel More. I see her still as she was then, a 
straight, white-dressed girl with big brown eyes that re- 
garded me now with perplexity, now with a faint dismay. 
I still went over to see her, and my manner had changed. 
I had nothing to say to her now and everything to hide. 
Everything between us hung arrested, and nothing could 
occur to make an end. 

I told Mary I must cease my visits to the Mores. I 
tried to make her feel my own sense of an accumulating 
cruelty to Rachel. "But it explains away so much/' she 
said. "If you stop going there everyone will talk. 
Everything will swing round and point here." 

"Rachel!" I protested. 

"No," she said, overbearing me, "you must keep on 
going to Ridinghanger. You must. You must." . . , 

1 60 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

For a long time I had said nothing to Mary of the 
burthen these pretences were to me; it had seemed a 
monstrous ingratitude to find the slightest flaw in the 
passionate love and intimacy she had given me. But at 
last the divergence of our purposes became manifest to 
us both. A time came when we perceived it clearly and 
discussed it openly. I have still a vivid recollection of a 
golden October day when we had met at the edge of the 
plantation that overlooks Bearshill. She had come 
through the gardens into the pine-wood, and I had 
jumped the rusty banked stream that runs down the 
Bearshill valley, and clambered the barbed wire fence. 
I came up the steep bank and through a fringe of furze to 
where she stood in the shade ; I kissed her hand, and dis- 
covered mine had been torn open by one of the thorns 
of the wire and was dripping blood. "Mind my dress/' 
she said, and we laughed as we kissed with my arm held 
aloof. 

We sat down side by side upon the warm pine needles 
that carpeted the sand, and she made a mothering fuss 
about my petty wound, and bound it in my handkerchief. 
We looked together across the steep gorge at the blue 
ridge of trees beyond. "Anyone," she said, "might have 
seen us this minute/' 

"I never thought," I said, and moved a foot away from 
her. 

"It's too late if they have," said she, pulling me back 
to her. "Over beyond there, that must be Hindhead. 
Someone with a telescope !" 

"That's less credible," I said. And it occurred to me 
that the grey stretch of downland beyond must be the 
ridge to the west of Ridinghanger. 

161 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"I wish/' I said, "it didn't matter. I wish I could 
come and go and fear nobody and spend long hours with 
you oh ! at our ease. ' ' 

"Now," she said, "we spend short hours. I wonder 
if I would like It's no good, Stephen, letting our- 
selves think of things that can't be. Here we are. Kiss 
that hand, my lover, there, just between wrist and thumb 
the little hollow. Yes, exactly there." 

But thoughts had been set going in my mind. "Why," 
I said presently, "should you always speak of things that 
can't be? Why should we take all this as if it were all 
that there could be? I want long hours. I want you to 
shine all the day through on my life. Now, dear, it's as 
if the sun was shown ever and again, and then put back 
behind an eclipse. I come to you half -blinded, I go away 
unsatisfied. All the world is dark in between, and little 
phantom yous float over it." 

She rested her cheek on her hand and looked at me 
gravely. 

"You are hard to satisfy, brother heart," she said. 

"I live in snatches of brightness and all the rest of life 
is waiting and thinking and waiting." 

"What else is there? Haven't we the brightness?" 

" I want you," I said. " I want you altogether." 

"After so much?" 

"I want the more. Mary, I want you to come away 
with me. No, listen! this life don't think I'm not 
full of the beauty, the happiness, the wonder But 
it's a suspense. It doesn't go on. It's just a dawn, dear, 
a splendid dawn, a glory of color and brightness and 
freshness and hope, and no sun rises. I want the day. 
Everything else has stopped with me and stopped with 

162 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

you. I do nothing with my politics now, I pretend. 
I have no plans in life except plans for meeting you and 
again meeting you. I want to go on, I want to go on with 
you and take up work and the world again you beside 
me. I want you to come out of all this life out of all 
this immense wealthy emptiness of yours " 

"Stop," she said, "and listen to me, Stephen." 

She paused with her lips pressed together, her brows a 
little knit. 

"I won't," she said slowly. "I am going on like this. 
I and you are going to be lovers just as we are lovers 
now secret lovers. And I am going to help you in all 
your projects, hold your party together for you will have 
a party my house shall be its centre " 

"But Justin " 

"He takes no interest in politics. He will do what 
pleases me." 

I took some time before I answered. "You don't 
understand how men feel," I said. 

She waited for what else I had to say. I lay prone, and 
gathered together and shaped and reshaped a little heap 

of pine needles. "You see I can't do it. I want 

you." 

She gripped a handful of my hair, and tugged hard 
between each word. "Haven't you got me?" she asked 
between her teeth. ' ' What more could you have ? ' ' 

"I want you openly." 

She folded her arms beneath her. "No," she said. 

For a little while neither of us spoke. 

"It's the trouble of the deceit?" she asked. 

"It's the deceit." 

"We can stop all that," she said. 
163 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I looked up at her face enquiringly. 

"By having no more to hide," she said, with her eyes 
full of tears. "If it's nothing to you 

"It's everything to me," I said. "It's overwhelming 
me. Oh Mary, heart of my life, my dear, come out of 
this! Come with me, come and be my wife, make a clean 
thing of it ! Let me take you away, and then let me marry 
you. I know it's asking you to come to a sort of 
poverty " 

But Mary's blue eyes were alight with anger. "Isn't 
it a clean^thing now, Stephen?" she was crying. "Do 
you mean that you and I aren't clean now? Will you 
never understand?" 

"Oh clean," I answered, "clean as Eve in the garden. 
But can we keep clean? Won't the shadow of our false- 
hoods darken at all? Come out of it while we are still 
clean. Come with me. Justin will divorce you. We 
can stay abroad and marry and come back." 

Mary was kneeling up now with her hands upon her 
knees. 

"Come back to what?" she cried. "Parliament? 
after that? You boy! you sentimentalist! you you 
duffer! Do you think I'd let you do it for your own sake 
even? Do you think I want you spoilt? We should 
come back to mope outside of things, we should come 
back to fret our lives out. I won't do it, Stephen, I won't 
do it. End this if you like, break our hearts and throw 
them away and go on without them, but to turn all 
our lives into a scandal, to give ourselves over to the 
mean and the malicious, a prey to old women and you 
damned out of everything! A man partly forgiven! A 
man who went wrong for a woman! No! 19 

164 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

She sprang lightly to her feet and stood over me as 
I knelt before her. "And I came here to be made love 
to, Stephen! I came here to be loved! And you talk 
that nonsense ! You remind me of everything 
wretched!" 

She lifted up her hands and then struck down with 
them, a gesture of infinite impatience. Her face as she 
bent to me was alive with a friendly anger, her eyes 
suddenly dark. "You duffer!" she repeated. . . . 



10 

Discovery followed hard upon that meeting. I had 
come over to Martens with some book as a pretext; 
the man had told me that Lady Mary awaited me in 
her blue parlor, and I went unannounced through the 
long gallery to find her. The door stood a little ajar, 
I opened it softly so that she did not hear the, and saw 
her seated at her writing-desk with her back to me, and 
her cheek and eyebrow just touched by the sunlight 
from the open terrace window. She was writing a note. 
I put my hand about her shoulder, and bent to kiss her 
as she turned. Then as she came round to me she started, 
was for a moment rigid, then thrust me from her and rose 
very slowly to her feet. 

I turned to the window and became as rigid, facing 
Justin. He was standing on the terrace, staring at us, 
with a face that looked stupid and inexpressive and- 
very white. The sky behind him, appropriately enough, 
was full of the tattered inky onset of a thunderstorm. 
So we remained for a lengthy second perhaps, a trite 

165 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tableau vivant. We two seemed to hang helplessly upon 
Justin, and he was the first of us to move. 

He 'made a queer, incomplete gesture with one hand, 
as if he wanted to undo the top button of his waistcoat 
and then thought better of it. He came very slowly 
into the room. When he spoke his voice had neither rage 
nor denunciation in it. It was simply conversational. 
" I felt this was going on/' he said. And then to his wife 
with the note of one who remarks dispassionately on a 
peculiar situation. "Yet somehow it seemed wrong and 
unnatural to think such a thing of you." 

His face took on something of the vexed look of a child 
who struggles with a difficult task. "Do you mind," he 
said to me, "will you go?" 

I took a moment for my reply. " No," I said. " Since 

you know at last There are things to be said." 

" No, " said Mary, suddenly. " Go ! Let me talk to him/ ' 
"No," I said, "my place is here beside you." 
He seemed not to hear me. His eyes were fixed on 
Mary. He seemed to think he had dismissed me, and 
that I was no longer there. His mind was not concerned 
about me, but about her. He spoke as though what he 
said had been in his mind, and no doubt it had been 
in his mind, for many days. "I didn't deserve this," he 
said to her. "I've tried to make your life as you wanted 
your life. It's astonishing to find I haven't. You gave 
no sign. I suppose I ought to have felt all this happen- 
ing, but it comes upon me surprisingly. I don't know 
what I'm to do." He became aware of me again. "And 
you!" he said. "What am I to do? To think that you 
while I have been treating her like some sacred 
thing. . . ." 

166 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

The color was creeping back into his face. Indignation 
had come into his voice, the first yellow lights of rising 
jealousy showed in his eyes. 

"Stephen," I heard Mary say, "will you leave me to 
talk to my husband?" 

"There is only one thing to do," I said. "What is the 
need of talking? We two are lovers, Justin." I spoke to 
both of them. "We two must go out into the world, go 
out now together. This marriage of yours it's no mar- 
riage, no real marriage. ..." 

I think I said that. I seem to remember saying that; 
perhaps with other phrases that I have forgotten. But 
my memory of what we said and did, which is so photo- 
graphically clear of these earlier passages that I believe 
I can answer for every gesture and nearly every word 
that I have set down, becomes suddenly turbid. The 
high tension of our first confrontation was giving place 
to a flood of emotional impulse. We all became eager 
to talk, to impose interpretations and justifications upon 
our situation. We all three became divided between our 
partial attention to one another and our urgent necessity 
to keep hold of our points of view. That I think is the 
common tragedy of almost all human conflicts, that 
rapid breakdown from the first cool apprehension of an 
issue to heat, confusion, and insistence. I do not know 
if indeed we raised our voices, but my memory has an 
effect of raised voices, and when at last I went out of the 
house it seemed to me that the men-servants in the hall 
were as hushed as beasts before a thunderstorm, and all 
of them quite fully aware of the tremendous catastrophe 
that had come to Martens. And moreover, as I recalled 
afterwards with astonishment, I went past them and out 

167 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

into the driving rain unprotected, and not one of them 
stirred a serviceable hand. . . . 

What was it we said? I have a vivid sense of declaring 
not once only but several times that Mary and I were 
husband and wife "in the sight of God." I was full of 
the idea that now she must inevitably be mine. I must 
have spoken to Justin at times as if he had come merely 
to confirm my view of the long dispute there had been 
between us. For a while my mind resisted his extraor- 
dinary attitude that the matter lay between him and Mary, 
that I was in some way an interloper. It seemed to me 
there was nothing for it now but that Mary should stand 
by my side and face Justin with the world behind him. 
I remember my confused sense that presently she and I 
would have to go straight out of Martens. And she was 
wearing a tea-gown, easy and open, and the flimsiest of 
slippers. Any packing, any change of clothing, struck me 
as an incredible anti-climax. I had visions of our going 
forth, hand in hand. Outside was the soughing of a 
coming storm, a chill wind drove a tumult of leaves along 
the terrace, the door slammed and yawned open again, 
and then came the rain. Justin, I remember, still talking, 
closed the door. I tried to think how I could get to the 
station five miles away, and then what we could do in 
London. We should seem rather odd visitors to an 
hotel without luggage. All this was behind my valiant 
demand that she should come with me, and come now. 

And then my mind was lanced by the thin edge of 
realization that she did not intend to come now, and 
that Justin was resolved she should not do so. After 
the first shock of finding herself discovered she had 
stood pale but uncowed before her bureau, with her eyes 

168 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

rather on him than on me. Her hands, I think, were 
behind her upon the edge of the writing flap, and she was 
a little leaning upon them. She had the watchful* alert 
expression of one who faces an unanticipated but by no 
means overwhelming situation. She cast a remark to 
me. "But I do not want to come with you," she said. 
"I have told you I do not want to come with you." All 
her mind seemed concentrated upon what she should do 
with Justin. "You must send him away," he was saying. 
" It's an abominable thing. It must stop. How can you 
dream it should go on?" 

"But you said when you married me I should be free, 
I should own myself! You gave me this house " 

4 ' What ! To disgrace myself !' ' 

I was moved to intervene. 

"You must choose between us, Mary," I cried. "It 
is impossible you should stay here! You cannot stay 
here." 

She turned upon me, a creature at bay. "Why 
shouldn't I stay here? Why must I choose between 
two men? I want neither of you. I want myself. I'm 
not a thing. I'm a human being. I'm not your thing, 
Justin nor yours, Stephen. Yet you want to quarrel 
over me like two dogs over a bone. I am going to stay 
here in my house! It's my house. I made it. Every 
room of it is full of me. Here I am!" 

She stood there making this magnificently extravagant 
claim; her eyes blazing blue, her hair a little dishevelled 
with a strand across her cheek. 

Both I and Justin spoke together, and then turned in 
helpless anger upon one another. I remember that with 
the clumsiest of weak gestures he bade me begone from 

169 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

the house, and that I with a now rather deflated rhetoric 
answered I would go only with Mary at my side. And 
there she stood, less like a desperate rebel against the most 
fundamental social relations than an indignant princess, 
and demanded of us and high heaven, " Why should I be 
fought for? Why should I be fought for?" 

And then abruptly she gathered her skirts in her hand 
and advanced. "Open that door, Stephen," she said, and 
was gone with a silken whirl and rustle from our presence. 

We were left regarding one another with blank expres- 
sions. 

Her departure had torn the substance out of our 
dispute. For the moment we found ourselves left with 
a new situation for which there is as yet no tradition 
of behavior. We had become actors in that new human 
comedy that is just beginning in the world, that comedy 
in which men still dispute the possession and the manner 
of the possession of woman according to the ancient 
rules, while they on their side are determining ever 
more definitely that they will not be possessed. . . . 

We had little to say to one another, mere echoes and 
endorsements of our recent declarations. "She must 
come to me," said I. And he, "I will save her from that 
at any cost." 

That was the gist of our confrontation, and then I 
turned about and walked along the gallery towards the 
entrance, with Justin following me slowly. I was full 
of the wrath of baffled heroics; I turned towards him 
with something of a gesture. Down the perspective of 
the white and empty gallery he appeared small and 
perplexed. The panes of the tall French windows were 
slashed with rain. . . . 

170 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 



n 

I forget now absolutely what I may have expected to 
happen next. I cannot remember my return to my 
father's house that day. But I know that what did 
happen was the most unanticipated and incredible 
experience of my life. It was as if the whole world of 
mankind were suddenly to turn upside down ai).d people 
go about calmly in positions of complete inversion. I 
had a note from Mary on the morning after this dis- 
covery that indeed dealt with that but was otherwise not 
very different from endless notes I had received before 
our crisis. It was destroyed, so that I do not know its 
exact text now, but it did not add anything material to the 
situation, or give me the faintest shadow to intimate 
what crept close upon us both. She repeated her strangely 
thwarting refusal to come away and live with me. She 
seemed indignant that we had been discovered as though 
Justin had indulged in an excess of existence by discovering 
us. I completed and despatched to her a long letter I had 
already been writing overnight in which I made clear 
the hopeless impossibility of her attitude, vowed all my 
life and strength to her, tried to make some picture of the 
happiness that was possible for us together, sketched as 
definitely as I could when and where we might meert and 
whither we might go. It must have made an extraor- 
dinary jumble of protest, persuasion and practicality. 
It never reached her; it was intercepted by Justin. 

I have gathered since that after I left Martens he sent 
telegrams to Guy and Philip and her cousin Lord Tarvrille. 
He was I think amazed beyond measure at this revelation 

171 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

of the possibilities of his cold and distant wife, with a 
vast passion of jealousy awaking in him, and absolutely 
incapable of forming any plan to meet the demands of his 
extraordinary situation. Guy and Philip got to him that 
night, Tarvrille came down next morning, and Martens 
became a debate. Justin did not so much express views 
and intentions as have them extracted from him; it was 
manifest he was prepared for the amplest forgiveness of 
his wife if only I could be obliterated from their world. 
Confronted with her brothers, the two men in the world 
who could be frankly brutal to her, Mary's dignity suf- 
fered; she persisted she meant to go on seeing me, but she 
was reduced to passionate tears. 

Into some such state of affairs I came that morning 
on the heels of my letter, demanding Lady Mary of a 
scared evasive butler. 

Maxton and Tarvrille appeared: "Hullo, Stratton!" 
said Tarvrille, with a fine flavor of an agreeable chance 
meeting. Philip had doubts about his greeting me, and 
then extended his reluctant hand with a nervous grin 
to excuse the delay. 

"I want to see Lady Mary," said I, stiffly. 

"She's not up yet/' said Tarvrille, with a hand on 
my shoulder. "Come and have a talk in the garden." 

We went out with Tarvrille expanding the topic of the 
seasons. "It's a damned good month, November, say 
what you like about it." Philip walked grimly silent on 
my other hand. 

"And it's a damned awkward situation youVe got us 
into, Stratton," said Tarvrille, "say what you like about 

lw. 

"It isn't as though old Justin was any sort of beast," 
172 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

he reflected, "or anything like that, you know. He's 
a most astonishing decent chap, clean as they make 
them." 

"This isn't a beastly intrigue," I said. 

"It never is," said Tarvrille genially. 

"We've loved each other a long time. It's just flared 
out here." 

"No doubt of that," said Tarvrille. "It's been like 
a beacon to all Surrey." 

"It's one of those cases where things have to be re- 
adjusted. The best thing to do is for Mary and me to go 

abroad " 

'"Yes, but does Mary think so?" 

"Look here!" said Philip in a voice thick with rage. 
' ' I won'L have Mary divorced. I won't. See ? I won't. ' ' 

"What the devil's it got to do with you? 91 I asked with 
an answering flash of fury. 

Tarvrille's arm ran through mine. "Nobody's going 
to divorce Mary," he said reassuringly. "Not even 
Justin. He doesn't want to, and nobody else can, and 
there you are I" 
, "But we two " 

' ' You two have had a tremendously good time. You've 
got found out and there you are!" 

"This thing has got to stop absolutely now," said 
Philip and echoed with a note of satisfaction in his own 
phrasing, "absolutely now." 

"You see, Stratton," said Tarvrille as if he were expand- 
ing Philip's assertion, "there's been too many divorces 
in society. It's demoralizing people. It's discrediting us. 
It's setting class against class. Everybody is saying why 
don't these big people either set about respecting the 
12 173 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

law or altering it. Common people are getting too in- 
fernally clear-headed. Hitherto it's mattered so little. 
. . . But we can't stand any more of it, Stratton, now. 
It's something more than a private issue; it's a question 
of public policy. We can't stand any more divorces. ' ' 

He reflected. "We have to consider something more 
than our own personal inclinations. We've got no 
business to be here at all if we're not a responsible class. 
We owe something to ourselves. " 

It was as if Tarvrille was as concerned as I was for 
this particular divorce, as if he struggled with a lively 
desire to see me and Mary happily married after the 
shortest possible interval. And indeed he manifestly 
wasn't unsympathetic; he had the strongest proclivity 
for the romantic and picturesque, and it was largely the 
romantic picturesqueness of renunciation that he urged 
upon me. Philip for the most part maintained a re- 
sentful silence; he was a clenched anger against me, 
against Mary, against the flaming possibilities that 
threatened the sister of Lord Maxton, that most prom- 
ising and distinguished young man. 

Of course their plans must have been definitely made 
before this talk, probably they had made them over- 
night, and probably it was Tarvrille had given them a 
practicable shape, but he threw over the whole of our 
talk so satisfying a suggestion of arrest and prolonged 
discussion that it never occurred to me that I should not 
be able to come again on the morrow and renew my 
demand to see Mary. Even when next day I turned my 
face to Martens and saw the flag had vanished from the 
flagstaff, it seemed merely a token of that household's 
perturbation. I thought the house looked oddly blank 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

and sleepy as I drew near, but I did not perceive that this 
was because all the blinds were drawn. The door upon 
the lawn was closed, and presently the butler came to 
open it. He was in an old white jacket, and collarless. 
"Lady Mary!" he said. "Lady Mary has gone, sir. 
She and Mr. Justin went yesterday after you called." 

"Gone!" said I. "But where?" 

"I think abroad, sir." 

"Abroad!" 

"I think abroad." 

"But They've left an address?" 

"Only to Mr. Justin's office," said the man. "Any 
letters will be forwarded from there." 

I paused upon the step. He remained stiffly def- 
erential, but with an air of having disposed of me. He 
reproved me tacitly for forgetting that I ought to conceal 
my astonishment at this disappearance. He was indeed 
an admirable man-servant. "Thank you," said I, and 
dropped away defeated from the door. 

I went down the broad steps, walked out up the lawn, 
and surveyed house and trees and garden and sky. To 
the heights and the depths and the uttermost, I knew now 
what it was to be amazed. . . . 



12 



I had felt myself an actor in a drama, and now I had 
very much the feeling an actor would have who answers 
to a cue and finds himself in mid-stage with the scenery 
and the rest of the cast suddenly vanished behind him. 
By that mixture of force and persuasion which avails 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

itself of a woman's instinctive and cultivated dread of 
disputes and raised voices and the betrayal of conten- 
tion to strangers, by the sheer tiring down of nerves and 
of sleepless body and by threats of an immediate divorce 
and a campaign of ruin against me, these three men had 
obliged Mary to leave Martens and go with them to 
Southampton, and thence they took her in Justin's yacht, 
the Water-Witch, to Waterford, and thence by train to a 
hired house, an adapted old castle at Mirk near Crogham 
in Mayo. There for all practical purposes she was a 
prisoner. They took away her purse, and she was four 
miles from a pillar-box and ten from a telegraph office. 
This house they had taken furnished without seeing it 
on the recommendation of a London agent, and in the 
name of Justin's solicitor. Thither presently went Lady 
Ladislaw, and an announcement appeared in the Times 
that Justin and Lady Mary had gone abroad for a time 
and that no letters would be forwarded. 

I have never learnt the particulars of that abduction, 
but I imagine Mary astonished, her pride outraged, 
humiliated, helpless, perplexed and maintaining a cer- 
tain outward dignity. Moreover, as I was presently 
to be told, she was ill. Guy and Philip were, I believe, 
the moving spirits in the affair; Tarvrille was their apolo- 
getic accomplice, Justin took the responsibility for what 
they did and bore the cost, he was bitterly ashamed to 
have these compulsions applied to his wife, but full now 
of a gusty fury against myself. He loved Mary still 
with a love that was shamed and torn and bleeding, but 
his ruling passion was that infinitely stronger passion 
than love in our poor human hearts, jealousy. He was 
prepared to fight for her now as men fight for a flag, 

176 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

tearing it to pieces in the struggle. He meant now to 
keep Mary. That settled, he was prepared to consider 
whether he still loved her or she him. . . . 

Now here it may seem to you that we are on the very 
verge of romance. Here is a beautiful lady carried off 
and held prisoner in a wild old place, standing out half 
cut off from the mainland among the wintry breakers of 
the west coast of Ireland. Here is the lover, baffled but 
insistent. Here are the fierce brothers and the stern 
dragon husband, and you have but to make out that the 
marriage was compulsory, irregular and, on the ground 
of that irregularity, finally dissoluble, to furnish forth a 
theme for Marriott Watson in his most admirable and 
adventurous vein. You can imagine the happy chances 
that would have guided me to the hiding-place, the 
trusty friend who would have come with me and told the 
story, the grim siege of the place all as it were sotto 
wee for fear of scandal the fight with Guy in the little 
cave, my attempted assassination, the secret passage. 
Would to heaven life had those rich simplicities, and one 
could meet one's man at the end of a sword! My siege 
of Mirk makes a very different story from that. 

In the first place I had no trusted friend of so extrav- 
agant a friendship as such aid would demand. I had 
no one whom it seemed permissible to tell of our relations. 
I was not one man against three or four men in a romantic 
struggle for a woman. I was one man against something 
infinitely greater than that, I was one man against near- 
ly all men, one man against laws, traditions, jnstincts, in- 
stitutions, social order. Whatever my position had been 
before, my continuing pursuit of Mary was open social 
rebellion. And I was in a state of extreme uncertainty 

177 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

how far Mary was a willing agent in this abrupt dis- 
appearance. I was disposed to think she had consented 
far more than she had done to this astonishing step. 
Carrying off an unwilling woman was outside my imagina- 
tive range. It was luminously clear in my mind that so 
far she had never countenanced the idea of flight with me, 
and until she did I was absolutely bound to silence about 
her. I felt that until I saw her face to face again, and was 
sure she wanted me to release her, that prohibition held. 
Yet how was I to get at her and hear what she had to say? 
Clearly it was possible that she was under restraint, but 
I did not know; I was not certain, I could not prove it. 
At Guildford station I gathered, after ignominious en- 
quiries, that the Justins had booked to London. I had 
two days of nearly frantic inactivity at home, and then 
pretended business that took me to London, for fear 
that I should break out to my father. I came up re- 
volving a dozen impossible projects of action in my mind. 
I had to get into touch with Mary, at that my mind hung 
and stopped. All through the twenty-four hours my 
nerves jumped at every knock upon my door; this might 
be the letter, this might be the telegram, this might be 
herself escaped and come to me. The days passed like 
days upon a painful sick-bed, grey or foggy London days 
of an appalling length and emptiness. If I sat at home my 
imagination tortured me; if I went out I wanted to be 
back and see if any communication had come. I tried 
repeatedly to see Tarvrille. I had an idea of obtaining 
a complete outfit for an elopement, but I was restrained 
by my entire ignorance of what a woman may need. I 
tried to equip myself for a sudden crisis by the complet- 
est preparation of every possible aspect. I did some 

178 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

absurd and ill-advised things. f astonished a respectable 
solicitor in a grimy little office behind a queer little court 
with trees near Cornhill, by asking him to give advice 
to an anonymous client and then putting my anonymous 
case before him. "Suppose," said I, "it was for the plot 
of a play." He nodded gravely. 

My case as I stated it struck me as an unattractive 
one. 

"Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus," he con- 
sidered with eyes that tried to remain severely impartial, 
"by a Wife's Lover, who wants to find out where she is. 
. . . It's unusual. You will be requiring the husband to 
produce her Corpus. ... I don't think speaking in the 
same general terms as those in which you put the cir- 
cumstances, it would be likely to succeed. . . . No." 

Then I overcame a profound repugnance and went 
to a firm of private detectives. It had occurred to me 
that if I could have Justin, Tarvrille, Guy or Philip 
traced I might get a clue to Mary's hiding-place. I 
remember a queer little office, a blusterous, frock-coated 
creature with a pock-marked face, iron-grey hair, an eye- 
glass and a strained tenor voice, who told me twice that 
he was a gentleman and several times that he would 
prefer not to do business than to do it in an ungentle- 
manly manner, and who was quite obviously ready and 
eager to blackmail either side in any scandal into which 
spite or weakness admitted his gesticulating fingers. He 
alluded vaguely to his staff, to his woman helpers, "some 
personally attached to me," to his remarkable under- 
ground knowledge of social life "the illicit side." What 
could he do for me? There was nothing, I said, illicit 
about me. His interest waned a little. I told him that 

179 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I was interested in certain financial matters, no matter 
what they were, and that I wanted to have a report of the 
movements of Justin and his brothers-in-law for the past 
few weeks and for a little time to come. " You want them 
watched?" said my private enquiry agent, leaning over the 
desk towards me and betraying a slight squint. " Exact- 
ly," said I. "I want to know what sort of things they 
are looking at just at present." 

"Have you any inkling ?"' . 

"None." 

"If our agents have to travel " 

I expressed a reasonable generosity in the matter of 
expenses, and left him at last with a vague discomfort 
in my mind. How far mightn't this undesirable unearth 
the whole business in the course of his investigations? 
And then what could he do? Suppose I went back forth- 
with and stopped his enquiries before they began ! I had 
a disagreeable feeling of meanness that I couldn't shake 
off; I felt I was taking up a weapon that Justin didn't 
deserve. Yet I argued with myself that the abduction 
of Mary justified any such course. 

As I was still debating this I saw Philip. He was per- 
haps twenty yards ahead of me, he was paying off a han- 
som which had just put him down outside Blake's. 
"Philip," I cried, following him up the steps and over- 
taking him and seizing his arm as the commissionaire 
opened the door for him. "Philip! What have you 
people done with Mary? Where is Mary?" 

He turned a white face to me. "How dare you," he 
said with a catch of the breath, "mention my sister?" 

^ I spoke in an undertone, and stepped a little between 
him and the man at the door in order that the latter 

1 80 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

might not hear what I said. "I want to see her," I ex- 
postulated. "I must see her. What you are doing is 
not playing the game. I've got to see her." 

"Let go of my arm, sir!" cried he, and suddenly I felt 
a whirlwind of rage answering the rage in his eyes. The 
pent-up exasperation of three weeks rushed to its violent 
release. He struck me in the face with the hand that was 
gripped about his umbrella. He meant to strike me in 
the face and then escape into his club, but before he could 
get away from me after his blow I had flung out at him, 
and had hit him under the jawbone. My blow followed 
his before guard or counter was possible. I hit with all 
my being. It was an amazing flare up of animal passion; 
from the moment that I perceived he was striking at me 
to the moment when both of us came staggering across 
the door-mat into the dignified and spacious hall-way of 
Blake's, we were back at the ancestral ape, and we did 
exactly what the ancestral ape would have done. The 
arms of the commissionaire about my waist, the rush 
of the astonished porter from his little glass box, two 
incredibly startled and delighted pages, and an interven- 
ing member bawling out "Sir! Sir!" converged to remind 
us that we were a million years or so beyond those purely 
arboreal days. . . . 

We seemed for a time to be confronted before an 
audience that hesitated to interfere. ' ' How dare you name 
my sister to me?" he shouted at me, and brought to my 
mind the amazing folly of which he was capable. I 
perceived Mary's name flung to the four winds of 
heaven. 

"You idiot, Philip!" I cried. "I don't know your 
sister. I've not seen her scarcely seen her for years. 

181 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I ask you I ask you for a match-box or something 
and you hit me." 

"If you dare to speak to her !" 

"You fool!" I cried, going nearer to him and trying 
to make him understand. But he winced and recoiled 
defensively. "I'm sorry," I said to the commissionaire 
who was intervening. "Lord Maxton has made a 
mistake." 

"Is he a member?" said someone in the background, 
and somebody else suggested calling a policeman. I per- 
ceived that only a prompt retreat would save the whole 
story of our quarrel from the newspapers. So far as I 
could see nobody knew me there except Philip. I had 
to take the risks of his behavior; manifestly I couldn't 
control it. I made no further attempt to explain anything 
to anybody. Everyone was a little too perplexed for 
prompt action, and so the advantage in that matter lay 
with me. I walked through the door, and with what I 
imagined to be an appearance of the utmost serenity down 
the steps. I noted an ascending member glance at me 
with an expression of exceptional interest, but it was only 
after I had traversed the length of Pall Mall that I realized 
that my lip and the corner of my nostril were both bleed- 
ing profusely. I called a cab when I discovered my hand- 
kerchief scarle,t, and retreated to my flat and cold ablu- 
tions. Then I sat down to write a letter to Tarvrille, with 
a clamorous "Urgent, Please forward if away" above the 
address, and tell him at least to suppress Philip. But 
within the club that blockhead, thinking of nothing but 
the appearances of our fight and his own credit, was 
varying his assertion that he had thrashed me, with de- 
nunciations of me as a "blackguard," and giving half a 

182 



LADY MARY JUSTIN ' 

dozen men a highly colored, improvised, and altogether 
improbable account of my relentless pursuit and persecu- 
tion of Lady Mary Justin, and how she had left London 
to avoid me. They listened, no doubt, with extreme 
avidity. The matrimonial relations of the Justins had 
long been a matter for speculative minds. 

And while Philip was doing this, Guy, away in Mayo 
still, was writing a tender, trusting, and all too explicit 
letter to a well-known and extremely impatient lady in 
London to account for his continued absence from her 
house. "So that is it!" said the lady, reading, and was 
at least in the enviable position of one who had confirma- 
tory facts to impart. . . . 

And so quite suddenly the masks were off our situation 
and we were open to an impertinent world. For some 
days I did not realize what had happened, and lived in 
hope that Philip had been willing and able to cover his 
lapse. I went about with my preoccupation still, as I 
imagined, concealed, and with an increasing number of 
typed letters from my private enquiry agent in my pocket 
containing inaccurate and worthless information about 
the movements of Justin, which appeared to have been 
culled for the most part from a communicative young 
policeman stationed at the corner nearest to the Justins' 
house, or expanded from Who's Who and other kindred 
works of reference. The second letter, I remember, gave 
some particulars about the financial position of the younger 
men, and added that Justin's credit with the west-end 
tradesmen was "limitless," points upon which I had no 
sort of curiosity whatever. . . . 

I suppose a couple of hundred people in London knew 
before I did that Lady Mary Justin had been carried off 

183 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

to Ireland and practically imprisoned there by her hus- 
band because I was her lover. The thing reached me at 
last through little Fred Riddling, who came to my rooms 
in the morning while I was sitting over my breakfast. 
" Stratton !" said he, "what is all this story of your shaking 
Justin by the collar, and threatening to kill him if he 
didn't give up his wife to you? And why do you want 
to fight a duel with Maxton? What's it all about? 
Fire-eater you must be ! I stood up for you as well as I 
could, but I heard you abused for a solid hour last night, 
and there was a chap there simply squirting out facts and 
dates and names. Got it all. ... What have you been 
up to?" 

He stood on my hearthrug with an air of having called 
for an explanation to which he was entitled, and he very 
nearly got one. But I just had some scraps of reserve 
left, and they saved me. "Tell me first," I said, delay- 
ing myself with the lighting of a cigarette, "the particulars 
... as you heard them." 

Riddling embarked upon a descriptive sketch, and I 
got a minute or so to think. 

"Go on," I said with a note of irony, when he paused. 
"Go on. Tell me some more. Where did you say they 
have taken her; let us have it right." 

By the time his little store had run out I knew exactly 
what to do with him. "Riddling," said I, and stood up 
beside him suddenly and dropped my hand with a little 
added weight upon his shoulder, "Riddling, do you know 
the only right and proper thing to do when you hear 
scandal about a friend?" 

"Come straight to him," said Riddling virtuously, "as 
I have done." 

184 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

"No. Say you don't believe it. Ask the scandal- 
monger how he knows and insist on his telling you insist. 
And if he won't be very, very rude to him. Insist up to 
the quarrelling point. Now who were those people?" 

" Well that's a bit stiff. . . . One chap I didn't know 
at all." 

"You should have pulled him up and insisted upon 
knowing who he was, and what right he had to lie about 
me. For it's lying, Riddling. Listen! It isn't true 
that I'm besieging Lady Mary Justin. So far from 
besieging her I didn't even know where she was until 
you told me. Justin is a neighbor of my father's and a 
friend of mine. I had tea with him and his wife not a 
month ago. I had tea with them together. I knew they 
were going away, but it was a matter of such slight im- 
portance to me, such slight importance" I impressed 
this on his collarbone "that I was left with the idea 
that they were going to the south of France. I believe 
they are in the south of France. And there you are. 
I'm sorry to spoil sport, but that's the bleak unromantic 
truth of the matter." 

"You mean to say that there is nothing in it all?" 

"Nothing." 

He was atrociously disappointed. "But everybody," 
he said, "everybody has got something." 
' "Somebody will get a slander case if this goes on. I 
don't care what they've got." 

"Good Lord!" he said, and stared at the rug. "You'll 

take your oath " He glanced up and met my eye. 

"Oh, of course it's all right what you say." He was 
profoundly perplexed. He reflected. "But then, I say 
Stratton, why did you go for Maxton at Blake's? That 

185 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I had from an eye-witness. You can't deny a scrap like 
that in broad daylight. Why did you do that? 1 ' 

"Oh that's it," said I. "I begin to have glimmerings. 
There's a little matter between myself and Maxton. . . ." 
I found it a little difficult to improvise a plausible story. 

"But he said it was his sister," persisted Riddlings. 
"He said so afterwards, in the club." 

"Maxton," said I, losing my temper, "is a fool and a 
knave and a liar. His sister indeed! Lady Mary! 
If he can't leave his sister out of this business I'll break 
every bone of his body." ... I perceived my temper was 
undoing me. I invented rapidly but thinly. "As a 
matter of fact, Riddling, it's quite another sort of lady 
has set us by the ears." 

Riddling stuck his chin out, tucked in the corners of 
his mouth, made round eyes at the breakfast things and, 
hands in pockets, rocked from heels to toes and from toes 
to heels. " I see Stratton, yes, I see. Yes, all this makes 
it very plain, of course. Very plain. . . . Stupid thing, 
scandal is. . . . Thanks! no, I won't have a cigarette." 

And he left me presently with an uncomfortable sense 
that he did see, and didn't for one moment intend to 
restrain his considerable histrionic skill in handing on his 
vision to others. For some moments I stood savoring 
this all too manifest possibility, and then my thoughts 
went swirling into another channel. At last the curtain 
was pierced. I was no longer helplessly in the dark. I 
got out my Bradshaw, and sat with the map spread out 
over the breakfast things studying the routes to Mayo. 
Then I rang for Williams, the man I shared with the, two 
adjacent flat-holders, and told him to pack my kit-bag 
because I was suddenly called away. 

186 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

13 

Many of the particulars of my journey to Ireland have 
faded out of my mind altogether. I remember most 
distinctly my mood of grim elation that at last I had to 
deal with accessible persons again. . . . 

The weather was windy and violent, and I was sea- 
sick for most of the crossing, and very tired and exhausted 
when I landed. Williams had thought of my thick over- 
coat and loaded me with wraps and rugs, and I sat in the 
corner of a compartment in that state of mental and 
bodily fatigue that presses on the brows like a painless 
headache. I got to some little junction at last where I had 
to wait an hour for a branch-line train. I tasted all the 
bitterness of Irish hospitality, and such coffee as Ireland 
alone can produce. Then I went on to a station called 
Clumber or Clumboye, or some such name, and thence 
after some difficulty I got a car for my destination. It 
was a wretched car in which hens had been roosting, and 
it was drawn by a steaming horse that had sores under its 
mended harness. 

An immense wet wind was blowing as we came over the 
big hill that lies to the south of Mirk. Everything was 
wet, the hillside above me was either intensely green sod- 
den turf or great streaming slabs of limestone, seaward 
was a rocky headland, a ruin of a beehive* shape, and 
beyond a vast waste of tumbling waters unlit by any sun. 
Not a tree broke that melancholy wilderness, nor any 
living thing but ourselves. The horse went stumblingly 
under the incessant stimulation of the driver's lash and 
tongue. . . . 

"Yonder it is/' said my man, pointing with his whip, 

187 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and I twisted round to see over his shoulder, not the 
Rhine-like castle I had expected, but a long low house of 
stone upon a headland, backed by a distant mountain that 
vanished in a wild driven storm of rain as I looked. 
But at the sight of Mirk my lassitude passed, my nerves 
tightened, and my will began to march again. Now, 
thought I, we bring things to an issue. Now we come to 
something personal and definite. The vagueness is at an 
end. I kept my eyes upon the place, and thought it more 
and more like a prison as we drew nearer. Perhaps from 
that window Mary was looking for me now. Had she 
wondered why I did not come to her before? Now at 
any rate I had found her. I sprang off the car, found a 
bell-handle, and set the house jangling. 

The door opened, and a little old man appeared with 
his fingers thrust inside his collar as though he were 
struggling against strangulation. He regarded me for a 
second, and spoke before I could speak. 

"What might you be wanting?" said he, as if he had 
an answer ready. 

"I want to see Lady Mary Justin," I said. 

"You can't," he said. "She's gone." 

"Gone!" 

"The day before yesterday she went to London. 
You'll have to be getting back there." 

"She's gone to London." 

"No less." 

"Willingly?" 

The little old man struggled with his collar. "Anyone 
would go willingly," he said, and seemed to await my 
further commands. He eyed me obliquely with a shadow 
of malice in his eyes. 

188 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

It was then my heart failed, and I knew that we lovers 
were beaten. I turned from the door without another 
word to the janitor. " Back," said I to my driver, and got 
up behind him. 

But it is one thing to decide to go back, and another 
to do it. At the little station I studied time-tables, and 
I could not get to England again without a delay of half a 
day. Somewhere I must wait. I did not want to wait 
where there was any concourse of people. I decided to 
stay in the inn by the station for the intervening six hours, 
and get some sleep before I started upon my return, but 
when I saw the bedroom I changed my plan and went 
down out of the village by a steep road towards the shore. 
I wandered down through the rain and spindrift to the 
very edge of the sea, and there found a corner among the 
rocks a little sheltered from the wind, and sat, inert and 
wretched; my lips salt, my hair stiff with salt, and my 
body wet and cold; a miserable defeated man. For I 
had now an irrational and entirely overwhelming convic- 
tion of defeat. I saw as if I ought always to have seen that 
I had been pursuing a phantom of hopeless happiness, that 
my dream of ever : possessing Mary again was fantastic 
and foolish, and that I had expended all my strength in 
vain. Over me triumphed a law and tradition more 
towering than those cliffs and stronger than those waves. 
I was overwhelmed by a sense of human weakness, of the 
infinite feebleness of the individual man against wind 
and wave and the stress of tradition and the ancient usages 
of mankind. " We must submit," I whispered, crouching 
close, " we must submit." ... 

Far as the eye could reach the waves followed one an- 
other in long unhurrying lines, an inexhaustible succession, 
13 189 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

rolling, hissing, breaking, and tossing white manes of foam, 
to gather at last for a crowning effort and break thunder- 
ously, squirting foam two hundred feet up the streaming 
faces of the cliffs. The wind tore and tugged at me, and 
wind and water made together a clamor as though all the 
evil voices in the world, all the violent passions and all 
the hasty judgments were seeking a hearing above the 
more elemental uproar. . . . 



And while I was in this phase of fatigue and despair 
in Mayo, the scene was laid and all the other actors 
were waiting for the last act of my defeat in London. 
I came back to find two letters from Mary and a little 
accumulation of telegrams and notes, one written in my 
flat, from Tarvrille. 

Mary's letters were neither of them very long, and full 
of a new-born despair. She had not realized how great 
were the forces against her and against us both. She 
let fall a phrase that suggested she was ill. She had 
given in, she said, to save herself and myself and others 
from the shame and ruin of a divorce, and I must give in 
too. We had to agree not to meet or communicate for 
three years, and I was to go out of England. She prayed 
me to accept this. She knew, she said, she seemed to 
desert me, but I did not know everything, I did not 
know everything, I must agree; she could not come with 
me; it was impossible. Now certainly it was impossible. 
She had been weak, but I did not know all. If I knew 
all I should be the readier to understand and forgive her, 

190 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

but it was part of the conditions that I could not know 
all. Justin had been generous, in his way. . . . Justin 
had everything in his hands, the whole world was behind 
him against us, and I must give in. Those letters had a 
quality I had never before met in her, they were broken- 
spirited. I could not understand them fully, and they 
left me perplexed, with a strong desire to see her, to 
question her, to learn more fully what this change in her 
might mean. 

Tarvrille's notes recorded his repeated attempts to see 
me, I felt that he alone was capable of clearing up things 
for me, and I went out again at once and telegraphed 
to him for an appointment. 

He wired to me from that same house in Mayfair in 
which I had first met Mary after my return. He asked 
me to come to him in the afternoon, and thither I went 
through a November fog, and found him in the drawing- 
room that had the plate glass above the fireplace. But 
now he was vacating the house, and everything was 
already covered up, the pictures and their frames were 
under holland, the fine furniture all in covers of faded 
stuff, the chandeliers and statues wrapped up, the carpets 
rolled out of the way. Even the window-curtains were 
tucked into wrappers, and the blinds, except one he had 
raised, drawn down. He greeted me and apologized for 
the cold inhospitality of the house. "It was convenient 
here," he said. "I came here to clear out my papers 
and boxes. And there's no chance of interruptions. " 

He went and stood before the empty fireplace, and 
plunged into the middle of the matter. 

"You know, my dear Stratton, in this confounded 
business my heart's with you. It has been all along. If 

191 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I could have seen a clear chance before you for you and 
Mary to get away and make any kind of life of it 
though she's my cousin I'd have helped you. Indeed 
I would. But there's no sort of chance not the ghost , 
of a chance. . . ." 

He began to explain very fully, quite incontrovertibly, 
that entire absence of any chance for Mary and myself 
together. He argued to the converted. "You know as 
well as I do what that romantic flight abroad, that 
Ouidaesque casa in some secluded valley, comes to in 
reality. All round Florence there's no end of such 
scandalous people, I've been among them, the nine circles 
of the repenting scandalous, all cutting one another." 

"I agree," I said. "And yet " 

"What?" 

"We could have come back." 

Tarvrille paused, and then leant forward. "No." 

"But people have done so. It would have been a clean 
sort of divorce." 

"You don't understand Justin. Justin would ruin 
you. If you were to take Mary away. . . . He's a queer 
little man. Everything is in his hands. Everything al- 
ways is in the husband's hands in these affairs. If he 
chooses. And keeps himself in the right. For an injured 
husband the law sanctifies revenge. . . . 

"And you see, you've got to take Justin's terms. 
He's changed. He didn't at first fully realize. He feels 
cheated. We've had to persuade him. There's a case 
for Justin, you know. He's had to stand a lot. I 
don't wonder at his going stiff at last. No doubt it's hard 
for you to see that. But you have to see it. You've got 
to go away as he requires three years out of England, 

192 



LADY MARY JUSTIN 

you've got to promise not to correspond, not to meet 
afterwards ' ' 

"It's so extravagant a separation." 

"The alternative is not for you to have Mary, but 
for you two to be flung into the ditch together that's 
what it comes to, Stratton. Justin's got his case. He's 
set like steel. You're up against the law, up against 
social tradition, up against money any one of those a 
man may fight, but not all three. And she's ill, Stratton. 
You owe her consideration. You of all people. That's 
no got-up story; she's truly ill and broken. She can no 
longer fly with you and fight with you, travel in uncom- 
fortable trains, stay in horrible little inns. You don't 
understand. The edge is off her pluck, Stratton." 

"What do you mean?" I asked, and questioned his face. 

"Just exactly what I say." 

A gleam of understanding came to me. . . . 

"Why can't I see her?" I broke in, with my voice full 
of misery and anger. ' ' Why can't I see her ? As if seeing 
her once more could matter so very greatly now!" 

He appeared to weigh something in his mind. "You 
can't," he said. 

"How do I know that she's not being told some story 
of my abandonment of her? How do I know she isn't 
being led to believe] I no longer want her to come to 
me?" 

"She isn't," said Tarvrille, still with that arrested 
judicial note in his voice. "You had her letters^" he 
said. 

"Two." 

"Yes. Didn't they speak?" 

"I want to see her. Damn it, Tarvrille!" I cried with 

193 






THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

sudden tears in my smarting eyes. "Let her send me 

away. This isn't Not treating us like human 

beings." 

" Women," said Tarvrille and looked at his boot toes, 
"are different from men. You see, Stratton " 

He paused. "You always strike me, Stratton, as not 
realizing that women are weak things. We've got to 
take care of them. You don't seem to feel that as I do. 
Their moods fluctuate more than ours do. If you 
hold 'em to what they say in the same way you hold a 
man it isn't fair. . . ." 

He halted as though he awaited my assent to that 
proposition. 

"If you were to meet Mary now, you see, and if you 
were to say to her, come come and we'll jump down 
Etna together, and you said it in the proper voice and 
with the proper force, she'd do it, Stratton. You know 
that. Any man knows a thing like that. And she 
wouldn't want to do it. . . ." 

"You mean that's why I can't see her." 

"That's why you can't see her." 

"Because we'd become dramatic." 

"Because you'd become romantic and uncivilized." 

"Well," I said sullenly, realizing the bargain we were 
making, "I won't." 

"You won't make any appeal?" 

"No." 

He made no answer, and I looked up to discover him 
glancing over his shoulder through the great glass window 
into the other room. I stood up very quickly, and there 
in the further apartment were Guy and Mary, standing 
side by side. Our eyes met, and she came forward 

194 



L'ADY MARY JUSTIN 

towards the window impulsively, and paused, with that 
unpitying pane between us. ... 

Then Guy was opening the door for her and she stood 
in the doorway. She was in dark furs wrapped about her, 
but in the instant I could see how ill she was and how 
broken. She came a step or so towards me and then 
stopped short, and so we stood, shyly and awkwardly 
under Guy and Tarvrille's eyes, two yards apart. "You 
see," she said, and stopped lamely. 

"You and I," I said, "have to part, Mary. We 

We are beaten. Is that so?" 

"Stephen, there is nothing for us to do. We've of- 
fended. We broke the rules. We have to pay." 

"By parting?" 

"What else is there to do?" 

"No," I said. "There's nothing else." . . . 

"I tried," she said, "that you shouldn't be sent from 
England." 

"That's a detail," I answered. 

"But your politics your work?" 

"That does not matter. The great thing is that you 
are ill and unhappy that I can't help you. I can't 
do anything. ... I'd go anywhere ... to save you. 
. . . All I can do, I suppose, is to part like this and go." 

"I shan't be altogether unhappy. And I shall think 
of you " 

She paused, and we stood facing one another, tongue- 
tied. There was only one word more to say, and neither 
of us would say it for a moment. 

"Good-bye," she whispered at last, and then, "Don't 
think I deserted you, Stephen my dear. Don't think 
ill of me. I couldn't come I couldn't come to you," 

195 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and suddenly her face changed slowly and she began to 
weep, my fearless playmate whom I had never seen weep- 
ing before; she began to weep as an unhappy child might 
weep. 

"Oh my Mary!" I cried, weeping also, and held out 
my arms, and we clung together and kissed with tear-wet 
faces. 

"No," cried Guy belatedly, "we promised Justin!" 

But Tarvrille restrained his forbidding arm, and then 
after a second's interval put a hand on my shoulder. 
"Come, "he said. . . . 

And so it was Mary and I parted from one another. 



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH 
BEGINNING AGAIN 



IN operas and romances one goes from such a parting 
in a splendid dignity of gloom. But I am no hero, and 
I went down the big staircase of Tarvrille's house the 
empty shuck of an abandoned desire. I was acutely 
ashamed of my recent tears. In the centre of the hall 
was a marble figure swathed about with yellow muslin. 
"On account of the flies," I said, breaking our silence. 

My words were far too unexpected for Tarvrille to 
understand. "The flies," I repeated with an air of 
explanation. 

"You're sure shell be all right?" I said abruptly. 

"You've done the best thing you can for her." 

"I suppose I have. I have to go." And then I saw 
ahead of me a world full of the tiresome need of decisions 
and arrangements and empty of all interest. "Where 
the devil am I to go, Tarvrille? I can't even get out of 
things altogether. ..." . 

And then with a fresh realization of painful difficulties 
ahead: "I have to tell this to my father. I've got to 
explain And he thought he expected " 

Tarvrille opened the half of the heavy front door 

197 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

for me, hesitated, and came down the broad steps into 
the chilly grey street and a few yards along the pavement 
with me. He wanted to say something that he found 
difficult to say. When at last he did find words they were 
quite ridiculous in substance, and yet at the time I took 
them as gravely as he intended them. "It's no good 
quoting Marcus Aurelius," said Tarvrille, "to a chap with 
his finger in the crack of a door." 

"I suppose it isn't," I said. 

"One doesn't want to be a flatulent ass of course," said 
Tarvrille, "still " 

He resumed with an air of plunging. "It will sound 
just rot to you now, Stratton, but after all it conies to 
this. Behind us is a situation with half-a-dozen par- 
ticular persons. Out here I mean here round the world 
before you've done with them there's a thousand 
million people men and women." 

"Oh! what does that matter to me?" said I. 

"Everything," said Tarvrille. "At least it ought 
to." 

He stopped and held out his hand. "Good-bye, 
Stratton good luck to you ! Good-bye. ' ' 

1 ' Yes, ' ' I said. ' ' Good-bye. ' ' 

I turned away from him. The image of Mary crying 
as a child cries suddenly blinded me and blotted out the 
world. 



9 I want to give you as clearly as I can some impres- 
sion of the mental states that followed this passion and 
this collapse. It seems to me one of the most extraor- 
dinary aspects of all that literature of speculative attack 

198 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

which is called psychology, that there is no name and no 
description at all of most of the mental states that make 
up life. Psychology, like sociology, is still largely in the 
scholastic stage, it is ignorant and intellectual, a happy 
refuge for the lazy industry of pedants; instead of ex- 
perience and accurate description and analysis it begins 
with the rash assumption of elements and starts out 
upon ridiculous syntheses. Who with a sick soul would 
dream of going to a psychologist? . . . 

Now here was I with a mind sore and inflamed. I did 
not clearly understand what had happened to me. I had 
blundered, offended, entangled myself; and I had no more 
conception than a beast in a bog what it was had got me, 
or the method or even the need of escape. The desires 
and passionate excitements, the anger and stress and 
Strain and suspicion of the last few months had worn 
deep grooves in my brain, channels without end or issue, 
out of which it seemed impossible to keep my thoughts. 
I had done dishonorable things, told lies, abused the con- 
fidence of a friend. I kept wrestling with these intolerable 
facts. If some momentary distraction released me for a 
time, back I would fall presently before I knew what was 
happening, and find myself scheming once more to reverse 
the accomplished, or eloquently restating things already 
intolerably overdiscussed in my mind, justifying the un- 
justifiable or avenging defeat. I would dream again and 
again of some tremendous appeal to Mary, some violent 
return and attack upon the situation. . . . 

One very great factor in my mental and moral distress! 

was the uncertain values of nearly every aspect of the casea 

- There is an invincible sense of wild lightness aboutj 

passionate love that no reasoning and no training will 

199 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

ever altogether repudiate; I had a persuasion that out of 
that I would presently extract a magic to excuse my 
deceits and treacheries and assuage my smarting shame. 
And round these deep central preoccupations were others 
of acute exasperation and hatred towards secondary peo- 
ple. There had been interventions, judgments upon in- 
sufficient evidence, comments, and often quite justifiable 
comments, that had filled me with an extraordinary 
savagery of resentment. 

I had a persuasion, illogical but invincible, that I was 
still entitled to all the respect due to a man of unblemished 
honor. I clung fiercely to the idea that to do dishonor- 
able things isn't necessarily to be dishonorable. . . . This 
state of mind I am describing is, I am convinced, the state 
of every man who has involved himself in any affair at 
once questionable and passionate. He seems free, but 
he is not free; he is the slave of the relentless paradox 
of his position. 

And we were all of us more or less in deep grooves we 
had made for ourselves, Philip, Guy, Justin, the friends 
involved, and all in the pleasure of our grooves incapable 
of tolerance or sympathetic realization. Even when we 
slept, the clenched fist of the attitudes we had assumed 
gave a direction to our dreams. 

You see the same string of events that had produced 
all this system of intense preoccupations had also severed 
me from the possible resumption of those wider interests 
out of which our intrigue had taken me. I had had to 
leave England and all the political beginnings I had been 
planning, and to return to those projects now, those now 
impossible projects, was to fall back promptly into hope- 
less exasperation. . . . 

200 



\ 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

And then the longing, the longing that is like a physical \ 
pain, that hunger of the heart for some one intolerably 
dear! The desire for a voice! The arrested habit of 
phrasing one's thoughts for a hearer who will listen in 
peace no more! From that lonely distress even rage, 
even the concoction of insult and conflict, was a refuge. 
From that pitiless travail of emptiness I was ready to 
turn desperately to any offer of excitement and dis- 
traction. 

From all those things I was to escape at last unhelped, 
but I want you to understand particularly these phases 
through which I passed; it falls to many and it may fall 
to you to pass through such a period of darkness and 
malign obsession. Make the groove only a little deeper, 
a little more unclimbable, make the temperament a little 
less sanguine, and suicide stares you in the face. And 
things worse than suicide, that suicide of self-respect 
which turns men to drugs and inflammatory vices and the 
utmost outrageous defiance of the dreaming noble self 
that has been so despitefully used. Into these same inky 
pools I have dipped my feet, where other men have 
drowned. I understand why they drown. And my 
taste of misdeed and resentment has given me just an 
inkling of what men must feel who go to prison. I know 
what it is to quarrel with a world. 



3 

My first plan when I went abroad was to change my 
Harbury French, which was poor stuff and pedantic, 
into a more colloquial article, and then go into Germany 

201 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

to do the same thing with my German, and then perhaps 
to remain in Germany studying German social condi- 
tions and the quality of the German army. It seemed 
to me that when the term of my exile was over I might 
return to England and re-enter the army. But all these 
were very anaemic plans conceived by a tired mind, and I 
set about carrying them out in a mood of slack lassitude. 
I got to Paris, and in Paris I threw them all overboard 
and went to Switzerland. 

I remember very clearly how I reached Paris. I ar- 
rived about sunset I suppose at St. Lazare or the Gare 
du Nord sent my luggage to the little hotel in the Rue 
d'Antin where I had taken rooms, and dreading their 
loneliness decided to go direct to a restaurant and dine. 
I remember walking out into the streets just as shops and 
windows and street lamps were beginning to light up, 
and strolling circuitously through the clear bright stir of 
the Parisian streets to find a dinner at the Cafe de la Paix. 
Some day you will know that peculiar sharp definite ex- 
citement of Paris. All cities are exciting, and each I 
think in a different way. And as I walked down along 
some boulevard towards the centre of things I saw a woman 
coming along a side street towards me, a woman with some- 
thing in her body and something in her carriage that re- 
minded me acutely of Mary. Her face was downcast, 
and then as we converged she looked up at me, not with 
the meretricious smile of her class but with a steadfast, 
friendly look. Her face seemed to me sane and strong. 
I passed and hesitated. An extraordinary impulse took 
me. I turned back. I followed this woman across the 
road and a little way along the opposite pavement. I re- 
member I did that, but I do not remember clearly what was 

202 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

in my mind at the time; I think it was a vague rush to- 
wards the flash of companionship in her eyes. There I 
had seemed to see the glimmer of a refuge from my 
desolation. Then came amazement and reaction. I 
turned about and went on my way, and saw her no more. 

But afterwards, later, I went out into the streets of 
Paris bent upon finding that woman. She had become 
a hope, a desire. 

I looked for her for what seemed a long time, half 
an hour perhaps or two hours. I went along, peering 
at the women's faces, through the blazing various lights, 
the pools of shadowy darkness, the flickering reflections 
and transient glitter, one of a vast stream of slow-moving 
adventurous human beings. I crossed streams of traffic, 
paused at luminous kiosks, became aware of dim rows of 
faces looking down upon me from above the shining 
enamel of the omnibuses. . . . My first intentness upon 
one person, so that I disregarded any distracting inter- 
vention, gave place by insensible degrees to a more 
general apprehension of 'the things about me. That 
original woman became as it were diffused. I began to 
look at the men and women sitting at the little tables 
behind the panes of the cafe's, and even on the terraces 
for the weather was still dry and open. I scrutinized the 
faces I passed, faces for the most part animated by a sort 
of shallow eagerness. Many were ugly, many vile with 
an intense vulgarity, but some in that throng were pretty, 
some almost gracious. There was something pathetic 
and appealing for me in this great sweeping together of 
people into a little light, into a weak community of desire 
for joy and eventfulness. There came to me a sense of 
tolerance, of fellowship, of participation. From an outer 

203 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

darkness of unhappiness or at least of joylessness, they 
had all come hither as I had come. 

I was like a creature that slips back again towards some 
deep waters out of which long since it came, into the 
i light and air. It was as if old forgotten things, pre- 
I natal experiences, some magic of ancestral memories, 
Ijurged me to mingle again with this unsatisfied passion 
iifor life about me. . . . 

Then suddenly a wave of feeling between self -disgust 
and fear poured over me. This vortex was drawing me 
into deep and unknown things. ... I hailed a passing 
fiacre ', went straight to my little hotel, settled my account 
with the proprietor, and caught a night train for Switzer- 
land. 

All night long my head ached, and I lay awake swaying 
and jolting and listening to the rhythms of the wheels, 
Paris clean forgotten so soon as it was left, and my 
thoughts circling continually about Justin and Philip 
and Mary and the things I might have said and done. 



4 

One day late in February I found myself in Vevey. 
I had come down with the break-up of the weather from 
Montana, where I had met some Oxford men I knew 
and had learned to ski. I had made a few of those vague 
acquaintances one makes in a winter-sport hotel, but 
now all these people were going back to England and I 
was thrown back upon myself once more. I was dull 
and angry and unhappy still, full of self-reproaches and 
dreary indignations, and then very much as the sky will 

204 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

sometimes break surprisingly through storm clouds 
there began in me a new series of moods. They came 
to me by surprise. One clear bright afternoon I sat 
upon the wall that runs along under the limes by the 
lake shore, envying all these people who were going 
back to England and work and usefulness. I thought 
of myself, of my career spoilt, my honor tarnished, my 
character tested and found wanting. So far as English 
politics went my prospects had closed for ever. Even 
after three years it was improbable that I should be 
considered by the party managers again. And besides, 
it seemed to me I was a man crippled. My other self, 
the mate and confirmation of my mind, had gone from 
me. I was no more than a mutilated man. My life 
was a thing condemned; I had joined the ranks of loafing, 
morally-limping, English exiles. 

I looked up. The sun was setting, a warm glow fell 
upon the dissolving mountains of Savoy and upon the 
shining mirror of the lake. The luminous, tranquil 
breadth of it caught. me and held me. "I am done for." 
The light upon the lake and upon the mountains, the 
downward swoop of a bird over the water and something 
in my heart, gave me the lie. 

1 ' What nonsense!" I said, and felt as if some dark 
cloud that had overshadowed me had Seen thrust back. 

I stared across at Savoy as though that land had 
spoken. Why should I let all my life be ruled by the 
blunders and adventures of one short year of adventure? 
Why should I become the votary of a train of conse- 
quences? What had I been dreaming of all this time? 
Over there were gigantic uplands I had never seen and 
trodden; and beyond were great plains and cities, and 
14 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

beyond that the sea, and so on, great spaces and multi- 
tudinous things all round about the world. What did the 
things I had done, the things I had failed to do, the hopes 
crushed out of me, the tears and the anger, matter to 
that? And in some amazing way this thought so took 
possession of me that the question seemed also to carry 
with it the still more startling collateral, what then did 
they matter to me? "Come out of yourself," said the 
mountains and all the beauty of the world. " Whatever 

I you have done or suffered is nothing to the inexhaustible 
offer life makes you. We are you, just as much as the 
past is you." 

It was as though I had forgotten and now remembered 
how infinitely multitudinous life can be. It was as if 
Tarvrille's neglected words to me had sprouted in the 
obscurity of my mind and borne fruit. . . . 

I cannot explain how that mood came, I am doing my 
best to describe it, and it is not easy even to describe. 
And I fear that to you who will have had I hope no ex- 
perience -of such shadows as I had passed through, it is 
impossible to convey its immense elation. ... I remember 
once I came in a boat out of the caves of Han after two 
hours in the darkness, and there was the common daylight 
that is nothing wonderful at all, and its brightness ahead 
there seemed like trumpets and cheering, like waving 
flags and like the sunrise. And so it was with this mood 
of my release. 

There is a phrase of Peter E. Noyes', that queer echo 

of Emerson whom people are always rediscovering and 

j forgetting again, a phrase that sticks in my mind,' ' Every 

I living soul is heir to an empire and has fallen into a pit." 

fit's an image wonderfully apt to describe my change of 

206 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

mental attitude, and render the contrast between those 
intensely passionate personal entanglements that had 
held me tight and that wide estate of life that spreads 
about us all, open to all of us in just the measure that we 
can scramble out of our individual selves to a more 
general self. I seemed to be hanging there at the brim 
of my stale and painful den, staring at the unthought-of 
greatness of the world, with an unhoped-for wind out of 
heaven blowing upon my face. 

I suppose the intention of the phrase " finding salva- 
tion," as religious people use it, is very much this expe- 
rience. If it is not the same thing it is something very 
closely akin. It is as if someone were scrambling out of al 
pit into a largeness a largeness that is attainable byj 
every man just in the measure that he realizes it is therej 

I leave these fine discriminations to the theologian. 
I know that I went back to my hotel in Vevey with my 
mind healed, with my will restored to me, and my ideas 
running together into plans. And I know that I had come 
out that day a broken and apafljetic man. 

Jt&r&di, Js*(jo&&yi 
5 

The next day my mood declined again; it was as if 
that light, that sense of release that had shone so clear 
and strong in my mind, had escaped me. I sought 
earnestly to recover it. But I could not do so, and I 
found my old narrow preoccupations calling urgently 
to me again. 

I thought that perhaps I might get back those intima- 
tions of outlook and relief if I clambered alone into some 

207 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

high solitude and thought. I had a crude attractive vision 
of myself far above the heat and noise, communing with 
the sky. It was the worst season for climbing, and on the 
spur of the moment I could do nothing but get up the 
Rochers de Naye on the wrong side, and try and find 
some eyrie that was neither slippery nor wet. I did not 
succeed. In one place I slipped down a wet bank for 
some yards and held at last by a root; if I had slipped 
much further I should not be writing here now; and I 
came back a very weary and bruised climber, without any 
meditation. . . . 

Three nights after when I was in bed I became very 
lucidly awake it must have been about two or three in 
the morning and the vision of life returned to me, with 
that same effect of enlargement and illumination. It was 
as if the great stillness that is behind and above and 
around the world of sense did in some way communicate 
with me. It bade me rouse my spirit and go on with the 
thoughts and purposes that had been stirring and pro- 
liferating in my mind when I had returned to England from 
the Cape. " Dismiss your passion." But I urged that 
that I could not do; there was the thought of Mary sub- 
jugated and weeping, the smarting memory of injury and 
defeat, the stains of subterfuge and discovery, the aching 
separation. No matter, the stillness answered, in the end 
all that is just to temper you for your greater uses. ... I 
cannot forget, I insisted. Do not forget, but for the 
present this leads you no whither; this chapter has ended; 
dismiss it and turn t6 those other things. You are not 
only Stephen Stratton who fell into adultery; in these 
silences he is a little thing and far away; here and with 
me you are Man Everyman in this round world in 

208 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

which your lot has fallen. But Mary, I urged, to forget 
Mary is a treason, an ingratitude, seeing that she loved 
me. But the stillness did not command me to forget 
her, but only to turn my face now to the great work that 
lies before mankind. And that work? That work, so far 
as your share goes, is first to understand, to solve, and 
then to achieve, to work out in the measure of yourself 
that torment of pity and that desire for order and justice 
which together saturate your soul. Go about the world, 
embrue yourself with life, make use of that confusedly 
striving brain that I have lifted so painfully out of the 
deadness of matter. . . . 

"But who are you?" I cried out suddenly to the night. 
"Who are you?" 

I sat up on the side of my bed. The dawn was just 
beginning to break up the featureless blackness of the 
small hours. "This is just some odd corner of my brain," 
I said. . . . 

Yet - How did I come to have this odd corner in 

my brain? What is this lucid stillness? . . . 

Ctledr 



6 

Let me tell you rather of my thoughts than of my\ 
moods, for there at least one comes to something with 
a form that may be drawn and a substance that is measur- 
able; one ceases to struggle with things indefinable and 
the effort to convey by metaphors and imaginary voices 
things that are at once bodiless and soundless and lightless 
and yet infinitely close and real. And moreover with that 
mysterious and subtle change of heart in me there came 

209 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

also a change in the quality and range of my ideas. I 
seemed to rise out of a tangle of immediacies and miscon- 
ceptions, to see more largely and more freely than I had 
ever done before. 

I have told how in my muddled and wounded phase I 
had snatched at the dull project of improving my lan- 
guages, and under the cloak of that spying a little upon 
German military arrangements. Now my mind set such 
petty romanticism on one side. It had recovered the 
strength to look on the whole of life and on my place in 
it. It could resume the ideas that our storm of passion 
had for a time thrust into the background of my thoughts. 
I took up again all those broad generalizations that had 
arisen out of my experiences in South Africa, and which 
I had been not so much fitting into as forcing into the 
formulae of English politics ; I recalled my disillusionment 
with British Imperialism, my vague but elaborating appre- 
hension of a profound conflict between enterprise and 
labor, a profound conflict between the life of the farm 
and the life of trade and finance and wholesale pro- 
duction, as being something far truer to realities than 
any of the issues of party and patriotism upon which men 
were spending their lives. So far as this rivalry between 
England and Germany, which so obsessed the imagina- 
tion of Europe, went, I found that any faith I may have 
had in its importance had simply fallen out of my mind. 
As a danger to civilization, as a conceivable source of 
destruction and delay, it was a monstrous business enough, 
but that in the long run it mattered how or when they 
fought and which won I did not believe. In the develop- 
ment of mankind the thing was of. far less importance 
than the struggle for Flanders or the wars of France and 

210 



BEGINNING AGAIN *i 

Burgundy. I was already coming to see Europe as no 
more than the dog's-eared corner of the page of history, 
like most Europeans I had thought it- the page and my 
recovering mind was eager and open to see the world 
beyond and form some conception of the greater forces 
that lay outside our insularities. What is humanity as 
a whole doing? What is the nature of the world process 
of which I am a part? Why should I drift from cradle to 
grave wearing the blinkers of my time and nationality, 
a mere denizen of Christendom, accepting its beliefs, its 
stale antagonisms, its unreal purposes? That perhaps 
had been tolerable while I was still an accepted member 
of the little world into which my lot had fallen, but now 
that I was thrust out its absurdity glared. For me the 
alternative was to be a world-man or no man. I had 
seemed sinking towards the latter: now I faced about and 
began to make myself what I still seek to make myself 
to-day, a son of mankind, a conscious part of that web 
of effort and perplexity which wraps about our globe. . . . 
All this I say came into my mind as if it were a part 
of that recovery of my mind from its first passionate 
abjection. And it seemed a simple and obvious part of 
the same conversion to realize that I was ignorant and 
narrow, and that, too, in a world which is suffering like 
a beast in a slime pit by reason of ignorance and narrow- 
ness of outlook, and that it was my manifest work and 
purpose to make myself less ignorant and to see and learn 
with all my being. It came to me as a clear duty that I 
I should get out of the land of hotels and leisure and go 
seeking the facts and clues to human inter-relationship 
nearer the earthy roots of things, and I turned my thoughts 
to India and China, those vast enigmas of human accu- 

211 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

mulation, in a spirit extraordinarily like that of some 
mystic who receives a call. I felt I must go to Asia and 
from Asia perhaps round the world. But it was the 
greatness of Asia commanded me. I wanted to see the 
East not as a spectacle but as the simmering vat in which 
the greater destiny of man brews and brews. . . . 



7 

It was necessary to tell my father of my intentions. 
I made numerous beginnings. I tore up several letters 
and quarrelled bitterly with the hotel pens. At first I 
tried to describe the change that had happened to my 
mind, to give him some impression of the new light, the 
release that had come to me. But how difficult this 
present world is with its tainted and poisoned phrases 
and its tangled misunderstandings! Here was I writing 
for the first time in my life of something essentially 
religious and writing it to him whose profession was 
religion, and I could find no words to convey my meaning 
Ho him that did not seem to me fraught with the possi- 
jbilities of misinterpretation. One evening I made a 
desperate resolve to let myself go, and scrawled my heart 
out to him as it seemed that night, a strange, long letter. 
It was one of the profoundest regrets that came to me 
when I saw him dead last winter that I did not risk his 
misunderstanding and post that letter. But when I re- 
read it in the next morning's daylight it seemed to me so 
rhetorical, so full of what shall I call it? spiritual bom- 
bast, it so caricatured and reflected upon the deep feelings 
sustaining me, that I could not post it for shamefacedness, 

212 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

and I tore it up into little pieces and sent instead the 
briefest of notes. 

"I am doing no good here in Switzerland,'* I wrote. 
" Would you mind if I went east? I want to see some- 
thing of the world outside Europe. I have a fancy I 
may find something to do beyond there. Of course, it 
will cost rather more than my present allowance. I will 
do my best to economize. Don't bother if it bothers 
you I've been bother enough to you. . . ." 

He replied still more compactly. "By all means. I 
will send you some circular notes, Poste Restante, Rome. 
That will be on your way. Good wishes to you, Stephen. 
I'm glad you want to go east instead of just staying in 
Switzerland." 

I sit here now and wonder, little son, what he thought, 
what he supposed, what he understood. 

I loved my father, and I began to perceive he loved 
me wonderfully. I can imagine no man I would have 
sooner had for a priest than him; all priestcraft lays 
hands if it can, and with an excellent wisdom, upon the 
titles and dignity of fatherhood; and yet here am I left 
to guessing I do not know whether my father ever 
worshipped, whether he ever prayed with his heart bared 
to God. There are times when the inexpressiveness of 
life comes near to overwhelming me, when it seems to me 
we are all asleep or entranced, and but a little way above 
the still cows who stand munching slowly in a field. 
Why couldn't we and why didn't we talk together? . . . i 
We fear bathos too much, are shyly decent to the pitch 
of mania. We have neither the courage of our bodies 
nor of our souls. . . . 

I went almost immediately to Rome. I stayed in 
213 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Rome some days, getting together an outfit, and inci- 
dentally seeing that greater city of the dead in whose 
embrace the modern city lies. I was now becoming 
interested in things outside my grooves, though my 
grooves were still there, deep and receptive, and I went 
about the place at last almost eagerly, tracing the out- 
lines of that great departed city on whose colossal bones 
the churches and palaces of the middle ages cluster like 
weeds in the spaces and ruins of a magnificent garden. 
I found myself one day in the Forum, thinking of that 
imperialism that had built the Basilica of Julius Caesar, 
and comparing its cramped vestiges with that vaster 
second administrative effort which has left the world 
the monstrous arches of Constantine. I sat down over 
against these last among the ruins of the Vestals' House, 
and mused on that later reconstruction when the Empire, 
with its science aborted and its literature and philosophy 
shrivelled to nothing, its social fabric ruined by the 
extravagances of financial adventure and its honor and 
patriotism altogether dead, united itself, in a desperate 
effort to continue, with all that was most bickeringly 
intolerant and destructive* in Christianity only to achieve 
one common vast decay. All Europe to this day is little 
more than the sequel to that failure. It is the Roman 
Empire in disintegration. The very churches whose 
domes rise to the northward of the ancient remains are 
built of looted stones and look like parasitic and fungoid 
growths, and the tourists stream through those spaces 
day by day, stare at the marble fragments, the arches, 
the fallen carvings and rich capitals, with nothing greater 
in their minds and nothing clearer. . . 

I discovered I was putting all this into the form of a 
214 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

letter to Mary. I was writing to her in my mind, as many I 
people talk to themselves. And I remember that I 
wandered upon the Palatine Hill musing over the idea 
of writing a long letter to her, a long continuous letter 
to her, a sort of diary of impressions and ideas, that some- 
when, years ahead, I might be able to put into her hands. 

One does not carry out such an idea into reality; it 
is so much easier to leave the letter imagined and unwritten 
if there lives but little hope of its delivery; yet for many 
years I kept up an impalpable correspondence in my 
thoughts, a stream of expression to which no answer came 
until at last the habits of public writing and the gather- 
ing interests of a new r61e in life diverted it to other ends. 



8 

One morning on the way from Brindisi to Egypt I came 
up on deck at dawn because my mind was restless and I 
could not sleep. Another solitary passenger was already 
up, so intently watching a pink-lit rocky coast-line away 
to the north of us that for a time he did not observe me. 

"That's Crete," he said, when at last he becanaenaware 
of me close at hand. 

" Crete !" said I. 

"Yes," he said, "Crete." 

He came nearer to me. "That, sir," he said with a 
challenging emphasis, "is the most wonderful island 
I've ever yet set eyes on, quite the most wonderful." 

"Five thousand years ago," he remarked after a pause 
that seemed to me to be calculated, "they were building 
palaces there, better than the best we can build to-day. 

215 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

And things like modern things. They had bathrooms 
there, beautifully fitted bathrooms and admirable sani- 
tationadmirable. Practically American. They had 
better artists to serve them than your King Edward has, 
why! Minos would have laughed or screamed at all that 
Windsor furniture. And the things they made of gold, 
s i r vou couldn't get them done anywhere to-day. Not 
for any money. There was a Go about them. . . . They 
had a kind of writing, too before the Phoenicians. No 
man can read it now, and there it is. * Fifty centuries ago 
it was; and to-day They grow oranges and lemons. 
And they riot. . . . Everything else gone. . . . It's as if 
men struggled up to a certain pitch and then grew 
tired. ... All this Mediterranean; it's a tired sea. ..." 

That was the beginning of a curious conversation. He 
was an American, a year or so younger than myself, 
going, he said, "to look at Egypt." 

"In our country," he explained, "we're apt to forget 
all these worked-out regions. Too apt. We don't get 
our perspectives. We think the whole blessed world is 
one everlasting boom. It hit me first down in Yucatan 
that that wasn't so. Why! the world's littered with the 
remains of booms and swaggering beginnings. American- 
ism! there's always been Americanism. This Mediter- 
ranean is just a Museum of old Americas. I guess Tyre 
and Sidon thought they were licking creation all the time. 
It's set me thinking. What's really going on? Why 
anywhere, you're running about among ruins anywhere. 
And ruins of something just as good as anything we're 
doing to-day. * Better in some ways. It takes the 
heart out of you. ..." 

It was Gidding, who is now my close friend and ally. 
216 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

I remember very vividly the flavor of morning freshness 
as we watched Crete pass away northward and I listened 
to his talk. 

"I was coming out of New York Harbor a month ago 
and looking back at the skyscrapers/' he said, "and sud- 
denly it hit me in the mind; 'That's just the next ruin/ 
I thought." 

I remember that much of our first talk, but the rest of 
it now is indistinct. 

We had however struck up an acquaintance, we were 
both alone, and until he left me on his way to Abydos we 
seem now to have been conversing all the time. And | 
almost all the time we were discussing human destiny 
and the causes of effort and decay, and whether the last 
few ascendant centuries the world has seen have in them 
anything more persistent than the countless beginnings 
that have gone before. 

"There's Science," said I a little doubtfully. 

"At Cnossus there they had Daedalus, sir, fifty centuries 
ago. Daedalus! He was an F.R.S. all right. I haven't 
a doubt he flew. If they hadn't steel they had brass. 
We're too conceited about our little modern things." 



9 

I found something very striking and dramatic in the 
passage from Europe to Asia. One steams slowly through 
a desert that comes up close to the ship; the sand stretches 
away, hillock and mound beyond hillock and mound; 
one sees camels in the offing stringing out to some ancient 
destination; one is manifestly passing across a barrier, 

217 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

the canal has changed nothing of that. Suez is a first 
dab of tumultuous Orientalism, noisy and vivid. And 
then, after that gleam of turmoil, one opens out into the 
lonely dark blue waters of the Red Sea. Right and left 
the shore is a bitter, sun-scorched desolation; eastward 
frowns a great rampart of lowering purple mountains 
towering up to Sinai. It is like no European landscape. 
The boat goes slowly as if uncharted dangers lurked ahead. 
It is a new world with a new atmosphere. Then comes 
wave upon wave of ever more sultry air, and the punkahs 
begin to swing and the white clothes appear. Everyone 
casts off Europe, assumes an Asiatic livery. The very sun, 
rushing up angrily and abruptly after a heated night, is 
unfamiliar, an Asiatic sun. 

And so one goes down that reef -fringed waterway to 
Aden; it is studded with lonely-looking lighthouses that 
burn, it seems, untended, and sometimes in their melan- 
choly isolation swing great rhythmic arms of light. And 
then, land and the last lateen sails of Aden vanishing to- 
gether, one stands out into the hot thundery monotonies 
of the Indian Ocean; into imprisonment in a blue horizon 
across whose Titan ring the engines seem to throb in vain. 
How one paces the ship day by day, and eats and dozes 
and eats again, and gossips inanely and thanks Heaven 
even for a flight of flying fish or a trail of smoke from over 
'the horizon to take one's mind a little out of one's oily 
quivering prison! ... A hot portentous delay; a sinister 
significant pause; that is the voyage from Europe to India 
still. 

I suppose by the time that you will go to India all this 
prelude will have vanished, you will rattle through in a 
train-de-luxe from Calais, by way of Baku or Constan- 

218 



BEGINNING AGAIN 

tinople; you will have none of this effect of a deliberate 
sullen approach across limitless miles of sea. But that is 
how I went to India. Everything seemed to expand; I 
was coming out of the frequent landfalls, the neighborly 
intimacies and neighborly conflicts of the Mediterranean 
into something remoter; into larger seas and greater lands, 
rarer communications and a vaster future. . . . 

To go from Europe to Asia is like going from Norway 
to Russia, from something slight and " advanced" to 
something massive and portentous. I felt that nearly 
nine years ago; to-day all Asia seems moving forward to 
justify my feelings. . . . 

And I remember too that as I went down the Red Sea 
and again in the Indian Ocean I had a nearly intolerable 
passion of loneliness. A wound may heal and still leave| 
pain. I was coming out of Europe as one comes out of a 
familiar house into something larger and stranger, I 
seemed but a little speck of life, and behind me, far away 
and silent and receding, was the one other being to whom 
my thoughts were open. It seemed very cruel to me that 
I could not write to her. 

Such moods were to come to me again and again, and 1 
particularly during the inactivities of voyages and in 
large empty spaces and at night when I was weary. At 
other times I could banish and overcome them by forcing 
myself to be busy and by going to see novel and moving 
things. 



CHAPTER THE EIGHTH 
THIS SWARMING BUSINESS OP MANKIND 



I DO not think I could now arrange into a consecutive 
history my travellings, my goings and returnings in my 
wandering effort to see and comprehend the world. And 
certainly even if I could arrange my facts I should still 
be at a loss to tell of the growth of ideas that is so much 
more important than any facts, to trace the increasing 
light to its innumerable sources, to a chink here, to a 
glowing reflection there, to a leap of burning light from 
some long inert darkness close at hand. But steadily the 
light grew, and this vast world of man, in which our 
world, little son, is the world of a limited class in a small 
island, began to take on definite forms, to betray broad 
universal movements; what seemed at first chaotic, a 
drift and tangle of passions, traditions, foolish ideas, 
blundering hostilities, careless tolerances, became con- 
fusedly systematic, showed something persistent and 
generalized at work among its multitudinous perplexity. 

I wonder now if I can put before you very briefly the 
main generalizations that were growing up in my mind 
during my exile, the simplified picture into which I trans- 
lated the billions of sights and sounds and smells, for 

220 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

every part of the world has its distinctive olfactory palette 
as much as its palette of colors that rained daily and 
nightly upon my mind. 

Before my eyes again as I sit here in this quiet walled 
French garden, the great space before the Jumna Musjid 
at Delhi reappears, as I saw it in the evening stillness 
against a glowing sky of gold, and the memory of count- 
less worshippers within, praying with a devotion no 
European displays. And then comes a memory of that 
long reef of staircases and temples and buildings, the ghats 
of Benares, in the blazing morning sun, swarming with a 
vast multitude of multicolored people and the water also 
swarming with brown bodies. It has the colors of a bed 
of extravagantly splendid flowers and the light that is 
Indian alone. Even as I sit here these places are alive 
with happening. It is just past midday here; at this 
moment the sun sinks in the skies of India, the Jumna 
Musjid flushes again with the glow of sunset, the smoke 
of evening fires streams heavenward against its subtle 
lines, and upon those steps at Benares that come down 
the hillside between the conquering mosque of Aurangzeb 
and the shining mirror of the Ganges a thousand silent 
seated figures fall into meditation. And other memories 
recur and struggle with one another; the crowded river- 
streets of Canton, the rafts and houseboats and junks 
innumerable, riding over inky water, begin now to twinkle 
with a thousand lights. They are ablaze in Osaka and 
Yokohama and Tokio, and the swarming staircase streets 
of Hong Kong glitter with a wicked activity now that 
night has come. I flash a glimpse of Burmese temples, 
of villages in Java, of the sombre purple masses of the 
walls of the Tartar city at Pekin with squat pagoda- 

15 221 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

/ 

guarded gates. How those great outlines lowered at me 
in the twilight, full of fresh memories and grim anticipa- 
tions of baseness and violence and bloodshed! I sit here 
recalling it feeling it all out beyond the trellised vine- 
clad wall that bounds my physical vision Vast crowded 

world that I have seen! going from point to point seeking 
for clues, for generalities, until at last it seems to me that 
there emerges something understandable. 

I think I have got something understandable out of 
it all. 

What a fantastically courageous thing is this mind of 
ours! My thoughts seem to me at once presumptuous 
and inevitable. I do not know why it is that I should 
dare, that any of us should dream of this attempt to 
comprehend. But we who think are everyone impelled 
to this amazing effort to get it all together into some 
simple generality. It is not reason but a deep-seated 
instinct that draws our intelligence towards explanations, 
that sets us perpetually seeking laws, seeking statements 
that will fit into infinite, incessantly interweaving com- 
plexities, and be true of them all! There is I perceive a 
valiant and magnificent stupidity about the human mind, 
!a disregard of disproportion and insufficiency like the 
ferret which will turn from the leveret it has seized to 
attack even man if he should interfere. By these desperate 
"feats of thinking it is that our species has achieved its 
victories. By them it survives. By them it must stand 
the test of ultimate survival. Some forgotten man in our 
ancestry for every begetting man alive was in my in- 
dividual ancestry and yours three thousand years ago 
first dared to think of the world as round, an astounding 
temerity. He rolled up the rivers and mountains, the 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

forests and plains and broad horizons that stretched 
beyond his ken, that seemed to commonsense to go on 
certainly for ever, into a ball, into a little ball "like an 
orange." Magnificent feat of the imagination, outdoing 
Thor's deep draught of the sea! And once he had done 
it, all do it and no one falters at the deed. You are not 
yet seven as I write and already you are serenely aware 
that you live upon a sphere. And in much the same man- 
ner it is that we, who are sociologists and economists, 
publicists and philosophers and what not, are attempting 
now to roll up the vast world of facts which concern human 
intercourse, the whole indeed of history and archaeology, 
into some similar imaginable and manageable shape, that 
presently everyone will be able to grasp. 

I suppose there was a time when nobody bothered at 
all about the shape of the earth, when nobody had even 
had the idea that the earth could be conceived as having 
a shape, and similarly it is true that it is only in recent 
centuries that people have been able to suppose that there 
was a shape to human history. It is indeed not much 
more than a century since there was any real emergence 
from theological assumptions and pure romanticism and 
accidentalism in these matters. Old Adam Smith it was, 
probing away at the roots of economics, who set going 
the construction of ampler propositions. From him 
spring all those new interpretations which have changed 
the writing of history from a record of dramatic reigns 
and wars and crises to an analysis of economic forces. 
How impossible it would be for anyone now to write that 
great chapter of Gibbon's in which he sweeps together into 
one contempt the history of sixty Emperors and six hun- 
dred years of time. His note of weariness and futility 

223 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

vanishes directly one's vision penetrates the immediate 
surface. Those Heraclians and Isaurians and Comneni 
were not history, a schoolboy nowadays knows that their 
record is not history, knows them for the mere scum upon 
the stream. 

i And still to-day we have our great interpretations to 
make. Ours is a time of guesses, theories and provisional 
generalizations^ Our phase corresponds to the cosmog- 
raphy that was still a little divided between discs and 
domes and spheres and cosmic eggs; that was still a 
thousand years from measuring and weighing a planet. 
For a long time my mind hovered about the stimulating 
theories of Socialism and particularly about those more 
systematic forms of Socialist teaching that centre about 
Karl Marx. He rose quite naturally out of those early 
economists who saw all the world in terms of production 
and saving. He was a necessary step for me at least, on 
the way to understanding. For a time I did so shape the 
world in my mind that it seemed to me no more than a 
vast enterprise for the organization and exploitation of 
labor. For a time I thought human life was essentially 
a labor problem, that working and controlling work and 
lending and selling and "speculating" made the essential 
substance of human life, over which the forms of politics 
ran as the stripes of a tiger's skin run and bend over its 
living muscles. I followed my period in thinking that. 
You will find in Ferrero's "Roman Decline," which was 
published early in this century, and which waits for you 
in the library, almost exactly the method of interpreta- 
tion that was recommending itself to me in 1904 and 1905. 
Well, the labor problem concerns a great substantial, 
shall I say? in human society. It is only I think the 

224 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

basis and matter of society, not its shape and life and 
reality, but it had to be apprehended before I could get 
on to more actual things. Insensibly the idea that 
contemporary political forms mattered very fundamentally 
to men, was fading out of my mind. The British Empire 
and the German Empire, the Unity of Italy, and Anglo- 
Saxon ascendency, the Yellow Peril and all the other vast 
phantoms of the World-politician's mythology were fading 
out of my mind in those years, as the Olympic cosmogony 
must have faded from the mind of some inquiring Greek 
philosopher in the days of Heraclitus. And I revised my 
history altogether in the new light. The world had 
ceased to be chaotic in my mind; it had become a vast if 
as yet a quite inconclusive drama between employer and 
employed. 

It makes a wonderful history, this history of mankind as 
a history of Labor, as a history of the perpetual attempts 
of an intelligent minority to get things done by other 
people. It does not explain how that aggression of the 
minority arose nor does it give any conception of a 
primordial society which corresponds with our knowledge 
of the realities of primitive communities. One begins 
rather in the air with a human society that sells and bar- 
ters and sustains contracts and permits land to be pri- 
vately owned, and having as hastily as possible got away 
from that difficulty of beginnings, having ignored the 
large areas of the world which remain under a pacific 
and unprogressive agriculture to this day, the rest of the 
story becomes extremely convincing and illuminating. 
It does indeed give a sustaining explanation to a large 
part of recorded history, this generalization about the 
proclivity of able and energetic people to make other 
4 225 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

people do things. One ignores what is being done as 
if that mattered nothing, and concentrates upon the 
use and enslavement of men. 

One sees that enslavement to labor progressing from 
crude directness to the most subtly indirect methods. 
The first expedient of enterprise was the sword and then 
the whip, and still there are remote and ugly corners of 
the world, in the Mexican Valle Nazionale or in Portu- 
guese South Africa, where the whip whistles still and the 
threat of great suffering and death follows hard upon the 
reluctant toiler. But the larger part of our modern 
slavery is past the stage of brand and whip. We have 
fallen into methods at once more subtle and more effec- 
tive. We stand benevolently in front of our fellow man, 
offering, almost as if it were food and drink and shelter and 
love, the work we want him to do; and behind him, we 
are acutely aware, is necessity, sometimes quite of our 
making, as when we drive him to work by a hut-tax or a 
poll tax or a rent, that obliges him to earn money, and 
sometimes not so obviously of our making, sometimes so 
little of our making that it is easy to believe we have no 
power to remove it. Instead of flicking the whip, we 
groan at last with Harriet Martineau at the inexorable 
laws of political economy that condemn us to comfort 
and direction, and those others to toil and hardship and 
indignity. . . . 

And through the consideration of these latter later 
aspects it was that I came at last to those subtler problems 
of tacit self-deception, of imperfect and unwilling appre- 
hension, of innocently assumed advantages, of wilfully 
disregarded unfairness; and also to all those other prob- 
lems of motive, those forgotten questions of why we make 

226 



THE BUSINESS OF,MANKIND 

others work for us long after our personal needs are 
satisfied, why men aggrandize and undertake, which 
gradually have become in my mind the essential problems 
of human relationship, replacing the crude problems of 
labor altogether in that position, making them at last only 
questions of contrivance and management on the way to 
greater ends. 

I have come to believe now that labor problems are 
problems merely by the way. They have played their 
part in a greater scheme. This phase of expropriation 
and enslavement, this half designed and half unconscious 
driving of the duller by the clever, of the pacific by the 
bolder, of those with weak appetites and imaginations by 
those with stronger appetites and imaginations, has been 
a necessary phase in human development. With my 
innate passionate desire to find the whole world purpose- 
ful, I cannot but believe that. But however necessary 
it has been, it is necessary no longer. Strangest of 
saviors, there rises over the conflicts of mankind the 
glittering angular promise of the machine. There is no 
longer any need for slavery, open or disguised. We do 
not need slaves nor toilers nor mere laborers any more; 
they are no longer essential to a civilization. Man has 
ridden on his brother man out of the need of servitude. 
He struggles through to a new phase, a phase of release, 
a phase -when leisure and an unexampled freedom is 
possible to every human being. Is possible. And it is 
there one halts seeing that splendid possibility of aspira- 
tion and creation before mankind and seeing mankind 
for the most part still downcast, quite unaware or incredu- 
lous, following the old rounds, the grooves of ancient and 
superseded assumptions and subjections. . . . 

227 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

But here I will not trace in any detail the growth of 
my conviction that the ancient and heavy obligation to 
work hard and continually throughout life has already 
slipped from man's shoulders. Suffice it that now I 
conceive of the task before mankind as a task essentially 
of rearrangement, as a problem in relationships, extremely 
complex and difficult indeed, but credibly solvable. 
During my Indian and Chinese journey I was still at the 
Marxist stage. I went about the east looking at labor, 
watching its organization and direction, seeing great 
interests and enterprises replace the diffused life of an 
earlier phase; the disputes and discussions in the Trans- 
vaal which had first opened my mind to these questions 
came back to me, and steadily I lost my interest in those 
mere political and national issues with their paraphernalia 
of kings and flags and governments and parties that had 
hitherto blinded me to these more fundamental inter- 
actions. 

2 

It happened that in Bombay circumstances conspired 
to bring the crude facts of labor enslavement vividly 
before me. I found a vigorous agitation raging in the 
English press against the horrible sweating that was going 
on in the cotton mills, I met the journalist most intimately 
concerned in the business on my second day in India, 
and before a week was out I was hard at work getting 
up the question and preparing a memorandum with him 
on the possibility of immediate legislative intervention. 
The very name of Bombay, which for most people recalls 
a spacious and dignified landfall, lateen sails, green islands 

228 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

and jutting precipices, a long city of trees and buildings 
like a bright and various breakwater between the great 
harbor and the sea, and then exquisite little temples, 
painted bullock carriages, Towers of Silence, Parsis, 
and an amazingly kaleidoscopic population, is for me 
a reminder of narrow, foetid, plague-stricken streets and 
tall insanitary tenement-houses packed and dripping with 
humanity, and of terrible throbbing factories working 
far into the night, blazing with electric light against the 
velvet-black night-sky of India, damp with the steam- 
clouds that are maintained to moisten the thread, and 
swarming with emaciated overworked brown children 
for even the adults, spare and small, in those mills seem 
children to a western eye. 

I plunged into this heated dreadful business with a 
passionate interest and went back to the Yacht Club 
only when the craving for air and a good bath and clean 
clothes and space and respect became unendurable. I 
waded deep in labor, in this process of consuming human- 
ity for gain, chasing my facts through throbbing quiver- 
ing sheds reeking of sweat and excrement under the tall 
black-smoking chimneys, chasing them in very truth, 
because when we came prying into the mills after the hour 
when child-labor should cease, there would be a shrill 
whistle, a patter of feet and a cuffing and hiding of the 
naked little creatures we were trying to rescue. They 
would be hidden under rugs, in boxes, in the most impos- 
sible places, and we dragged them out scared and lying. 
Many of them^ were perhaps seven years old at most ; 
and the adults men and women of fourteen that is to 
say we could not touch at all, and they worked in that 
Indian heat, in a noisome air drenched with steam for 

229 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

fourteen and fifteen hours a day. And essential to that 
general impression is a memory of a slim Parsi mill- 
manager luminously explaining the inherited passion for 
toil in the Indian weaver, and a certain bulky Hindu with 
a lemon-yellow turban and a strip of plump brown stomach 
showing between his clothes, who was doing very well, he 
said, with two wives and five children in the mills. 

That is my Bombay, that and the columns of crossed 
circles marking plague cases upon the corners of houses 
and a peculiar acrid smell, and the polychromatic stir 
of crowded narrow streets between cliffs of architecture 
with carved timbers and heavy ornamentations, into which 
the sun strikes obliquely and lights a thousand vivid 
hues. . . . 

Bombay, the gateway of what silly people were still 
calling in those days "the immemorial East," Bombay, 
which is newer than Boston or New York, Bombay which 
has grown beneath the Englishman's shadow out of a 
Portuguese fort in the last two hundred years. . . . 



3 

I came out of these dark corners presently into the 
sunblaze of India. I was now intensely interested in the 
whole question of employment and engaged in preparing 
matter for my first book, "Enterprise and India/ ' and 
therein you may read how I went first to Assam and then 
down to Ceylon following up this perplexing and com- 
plicated business of human enslavement to toil, exercised 
by this great spectacle of human labor, and at once 
attracted by and stimulated by and dissatisfied with those 

230 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

socialist generalizations that would make all this vast 
harsh spectacle of productive enterprise a kind of wicked- 
ness and outrage upon humanity. And behind and about 
< the things I was looking for were other things for which 
I was not looking, that slowly came into and qualified the 
problem. It dawned upon me by degrees that India is not 
so much one country as a vast spectacle of human develop- 
ment at every stage, in infinite variety. One ranges 
between naked savages and the most sophisticated of 
human beings. I pursued my enquiries about great 
modern enterprises, about railway labor, canal labor, 
tea-planting, across vast stretches of country where men 
still lived, illiterate, agricultural, unprogressive and simple, 
as men lived before the first stirrings of recorded history. 
One sees by the tanks of those mud-built villages groups 
of women with brass vessels who are identical in pose and 
figure and quality with the women modelled in Tanagra 
figures, and the droning wall-wheel is the same that 
irrigated the fields of ancient Greece, and the crops and 
beasts and all the life is as it was in Greece and Italy, 
Phoenicia and Judea before the very dawn of history. 

By imperceptible degrees I came to realize that this 
matter of expropriation and enslavement and control, 
which bulks so vastly upon the modern consciousness, 
which the Socialists treat as though it was the compre- 
hensive present process of mankind, is no more than one 
aspect of an overlife that struggles out of a massive an- 
cient and traditional common way of living, struggles out 
again and again blindly and always so far with a dis- 
orderly insuccess. . . . 

I began to see in their proper proportion the vast en- . 
during normal human existence, the peasant's agricultural 

231 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

life, unlettered, laborious and essentially unchanging on 
the one hand, and on the other those excrescences of 
multitudinous city aggregation, those stormy excesses of 
productive energy that flare up out of that life, establish 
for a time great unstable strangenesses of human living, 
palaces, cities, roads, empires, literatures, and then totter 
and fall back again into ruin. In India even more than 
about the Mediterranean all this is spectacular. There 
the peasant goes about his work according to the usage 
of fifty thousand years. He has a primitive version of 
religion, a moral tradition, a social usage, closely adapted 
by countless years of trial and survival to his needs, and 
the whole land is littered with the vestiges and abandoned 
material of those newer, bolder, more experimental be- 
ginnings, beginnings that merely began. 

It was when I was going through the panther-haunted 
palaces of Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri that I first felt how 
tremendously the ruins of the past may face towards the 
future; the thing there is like a frozen wave that rose and 
never broke; and once I had caught that light upon 
things, I found the same quality in all the ruins I saw, in 
Amber and Vijayanagar and Chitor, and in all that I have 
seen or heard of, in ancient Rome and ancient Verona, in 
Paestum and Cnossus and ancient Athens. None of these 
places was ever really finished and done with ; the Basilicas 
of Caesar and Constantine just as much as the baths and 
galleries and halls of audience at Fatehpur Sikri express 
not ends achieved but thwarted intentions of permanence. 
They embody repulse and rejection. They are trials, 
c bandoned trials, towards ends vaguely apprehended, ends 
ielt rather than known. Even so was I moved by the 
i Bruges-like emptinesses of Pekin, in the vast pretensions 

232 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

of its Forbidden City, which are like a cry, long sustained, 
that at last dies away in a wail. I saw the place in 1905 
in that slack interval after the European looting and be- 
fore the great awakening that followed the Russo-Japanese 
war. Pekin in a century or so may be added in its turn 
to the list of abandoned endeavors. Insensibly the sceptre 
passes. . . . Nearer home than any of these places have I 
imagined the same thing; in Paris it seemed tome I felt 
the first chill shadow of that same arrest, that impalpable 
ebb and cessation at the very crest of things, that voice 
which opposes to all the hasty ambitions and gathering 
eagerness of men: "It is not here, it is not yet." 

Only the other day as I came back from Paris to this 
quiet place and walked across the fields from the railway 
station to this house, I saw an old woman, a grandmother, 
a bent old crone with two children playing about her as 
she cut grass by the wayside, and she cut it, except that her 
sickle was steel, exactly as old women were cutting grass 
before there was writing, before the dawn of history, before 
men laid the first stones one upon the other of the first 
city that ever became a ruin. . . . 

You see Civilization has never yet existed, it has only 
continually and obstinately attempted to be. Our 
Civilization is but the indistinct twilight before the dawn. 
It is still only a confused attempt, a flourish out of bar- 
barism, and the normal life of men, the toiling earthy life 
of the field and the .byre, goes on still like a stream that at 
once supports and carries to destruction the experimental 
ships of some still imperfect inventor. India gives it all 
from first to last, and now the modern movement, the 
latest half-conscious struggle of the New Thing in mankind, 
throws up Bombay and Calcutta, vast feverish pustules 

233 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

upon the face of the peninsula, bridges the sacred rivers 
with hideous iron lattice-work and smears the sky of the 
dusty ruin-girdled city of Delhi, each ruin is the vestige 
of an empire, with the black smoke of factory chimneys. 
Altogether scattered over that sun-burnt plain there 
are the remains of five or six extinguished Delhis, that 
played their dramas of frustration before the Delhi of 
the Great Mogul. This present phase of human living 
its symbol at Delhi is now, I suppose, a scaffold- 
bristling pile of neo-Georgian building is the latest of the 
constructive synthetic efforts to make a newer and fuller 
life for mankind. Who dares call it the last? I question 
myself constantly whether this life we live to-day, whether 
that too, is more than a trial of these blind constructive 
forces, more universal perhaps, more powerful perhaps 
than any predecessor but still a trial, to litter the world 
with rusting material when the phase of recession recurs. 

But yet I can never quite think that is so. This time, 
surely, it is different. This time may indeed be the be- 
ginning of a permanent change; this time there are new 
elements, new methods and a new spirit at work upon 
construction that the world has never known before. 
Mankind may be now in the dawn of a fresh phase of 
living altogether. It is possible. The forces of con- 

^struction are proportionally gigantic. There was never 
so much clear and critical thought in the world as there 
is now, never so large a body of generally accessible 
knowledge and suggestion, never anything like the same 

, breadth of outlook, the same universality of imaginative 

^freedom. That is so in spite of infinite turmoil and con- 
fusion. Moreover the effort now is less concentrated, 
less dramatic. There is no one vital center to the modern 

1 234 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

movement which disaster can strike or decay undermine! 
If Paris or New York slacken and grow dull and material-! 
ist, if Berlin and London conspire for a mutual destruction, 
Tokio or Baku or Valparaiso or Christiania or Smyrna! 
or Delhi will shelter and continue the onward impetus. 

And this time too it is not any one person, any one 
dynasty, any one cult or race which carries our destiny.! 
Human thought has begun to free itself from individual! 
entanglements and dramatic necessities and accidental! 
standards. It becomes a collective mind, a collective] 
will towards achievement, greater than individuals or I 
cities or kingdoms or peoples, a mind and will to which \ 
we all contribute and which none of us may command nor ^ 
compromise by our private errors. It ceases to be aris- 
tocratic; it detaches itself from persons and takes posses- 
sion of us all. We are involved as it grows free and domi- 
nant, we find ourselves, in spite of ourselves, in spite of 
quarrels and jealousies and conflicts, helping and serving 
in the making of a new world-city, a new greater State 
above our legal States, in which all human life becomes a 
splendid enterprise, free and beautiful, whosjs aptest 
symbol in all our world is a huge Gothic Cathedral lit to 
flame by the sun, whose scheme is the towering conquest 
of the universe, whose every little detail is the wrought- 
out effort of a human soul. . . . 

Such were the ideas that grew together in my mind 
as I went about India and the East, across those vast 
sunlit plains, where men and women still toil in their 
dusty fields for a harsh living and live in doorless hovels 
on floors of trampled cow-dung, persecuted by a hundred 
hostile beasts and parasites, caught and eaten by tigers 
and panthers as cats eat mice, and grievously afflicted by 

235 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

periodic famine and pestilence, even as men and women 
lived before the dawn of history, for untold centuries, for 
hundreds of thousands of years. 



4 

How strange we English seem in India, a little scattered 
garrison. Are we anything more than accidental, any- 
thing more than the messenger-boy who has brought the 
impetus of the new effort towards civilization through the 
gates of the East? Are we makers or just a means, cas- 
usally taken up and used by the great forces of God? 

I do not know, I have never been able to tell. I have 
never been able to decide whether we are the greatest or 
the dullest of peoples. 

I think we are an imaginative people with an imagina- 
tion at once gigantic, heroic and shy, and also we are a 
strangely restrained and disciplined people who are yet 
neither subdued nor subordinated. . . . These are flat con- 
tradictions to state, and yet how else can one render the 
paradox of the English character and this spectacle of a 
handful of mute, snobbish, not obviously clever and quite 
obviously ill-educated men, holding together kingdoms, 
tongues and races, three hundred millions of them, in a 
restless fermenting peace? Again and again in India I 
would find myself in little circles of the official English, 
supercilious, pretentious, conventional, carefully "turned 
out" people, living gawkily, thinking gawkily, talking 
nothing but sport and gossip, relaxing at rare intervals 
into sentimentality and levity as mean as a banjo tune, 
and a kind of despairful disgust would engulf me. And 

236 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

then in some man's work, in some huge irrigation scheme, 
some feat of strategic foresight, some simple, penetrating 
realization of deep-lying things, I would find an effect, 
as if out of a thickly rusted sheath one had pulled a sword 
and found it flame. . . . 

I recall one evening I spent at a little station in Bengal, 
between Lucknow and Delhi, an evening given over to 
private theatricals. The theatre was a huge tent, and the 
little roughly improvised stage was lit by a row of oil 
footlights and so small as barely to give a foothold for the 
actors and actresses in the more crowded scenes. About 
me were the great people, the colonel's wife, a touring 
young man of family, officers and the wife of the manager 
of the big sugar refinery close at hand. Behind were 
English of a more dubious social position, also connected 
with the sugar refinery, a Eurasian family or so, very 
dressy and aggressive and terribly snubbed, and then I 
think various Portuguese and other nondescripts and 
groups of non-commissioned officers and men, some with 
their wives. The play, admirably chosen, was that crys- 
tallization of liberal Victorian snobbery, Caste, and I 
remember there was a sub-current of amusement because 
the young officer who played what is the name of the 
hero's friend? I forget had in the haste of his super- 
ficiality adopted a moustache that would not keep on and 
an eyeglass that would not keep in. 

Everybody was acting very badly, nobody was word- 
perfect and a rasping prompter would not keep ahead as 
he ought to have done; the scenery and the make-ups 
were daubs, and I was filled with amazement that having 
quite wantonly undertaken to do this thing these people 
could then do it so slackly. Then a certain sudden 
16 237 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

warmth in the applause about me quickened my atten- 
tion, and I realized the satirical purport of drunken old 
father Eccles, and the moral intention of his son-in-law, 
the plumber. Between them they expressed the whole 
duty of the workingman as the prosperous Victorians 
conceived it. He was to work hard always at any job 
he could find for any wages he could get, and if he didn't 
he was a "drunken shirker" and the dupe of "paid 
agitators." A comforting but misleading doctrine. And 
here were these people a decade on in the twentieth cen- 
tury, with Time, Death, and Judgment close upon them, ' 
still eagerly applauding, eager to excuse their minds with 
this one-sided, ungracious, old-fashioned nonsense, that 
has done so much to intensify the deepening class antag- 
onisms that strain us now at home almost to the breaking 
point ! 

How amazingly, it seemed, those people didn't under- 
stand and wouldn't understand any class but their own, 
any race but their own, any usage other than their use! 
Covertly I surveyed the colonel's profile. It expressed 
nothing but entire satisfaction with these disastrous inter- 
pretations. What a weather-worn thought-free face that 
grizzled veteran showed the world! 

I was seized with a sudden curiosity to see how the 
private soldiers behind me were taking old Eccles. I 
turned round to discover cropped heads and faces as ex- 
pressionless as masks, and behind them dusky faces 
watching very alertly, and then other dusky faces, 
Eurasians, inferiors, servants, natives. 

Then at a sharp edge the glare of our lighting ceased 
and the canvas walls of our narrow world of illusion 
opened into a vast blue twilight. At the opening stood 

238 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

two white-clad Sikhs, very, very still and attentive, watch- 
ing the performance, and beyond them was a great space 
of sky over a dim profile of trees and roofs and a minaret, 
a sky darkling down to the flushed red memory such a 
short memory it is in India of a day that had gone for 
ever. 

I remained staring at that for some time. 

" Isn't old Eccles good?" whispered the colonel's wife 
beside me, and recalled me to the play. . . . 

Somehow that picture of a narrow canvas tent in the 
midst of immensities has become my symbol for the whole 
life of the governing English, the English of India and 
Switzerland and the Riviera and the West End and the 
public services. . . . 

But they are not England, they are not the English 
reality, which is a thing at once bright and illuminating 
and fitful, a thing humorous and wise and adventurous 
Shakespeare, Dickens, Newton, Darwin, Nelson, Bacon, 
Shelley English names every one like the piercing light 
of lanterns swinging and swaying among the branches of 
dark trees at night. 

5 

I went again to Ceylon to look into the conditions of 
Coolie importation, and then I was going back into 
Assam once more, still in the wake of indentured labor, 
when I chanced upon a misadventure. I had my first 
and only experience of big game shooting in the Garo 
Hills, I was clawed out of a tree by a wounded panther, 
he missed his hold and I got back to my branch, but my 
shoulder was put out, my thigh was badly torn, and my 

239 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

blood was poisoned by the wound. I had an evil uncom- 
fortable time. My injury hampered me greatly, and for 
a while it seemed likely I should be permanently lamed. 
I had to keep to vehicles and reasonably good roads. 
I wound up my convalescence with a voyage to Singapore, 
and from thence I went on rather disconnectedly to a 
number of exploratory journeys excursions rather than 
journeys into China. I got to Pekin and then suddenly 
faced back to Europe, returning overland through Russia. 
I wanted now to study the conditions of modern in- 
dustrialism at its sources, and my disablement did but a 
little accelerate a return already decided-*t>on. I had 
got my conception of the East as a whole and of the 
shape of the historical process. I no longer felt adrift 
in a formless chaos of forces. I preceived no^a^ery clearly 
that human life is essentially a creative stn^gle out of 
the usage of immemorial years, that the synthesis of our 
contemporary civilization is this creative impulse rising 
again in its latest and greatest effort, the creative impulse 
rising again, as a wave rises from the trough of its pred- 
ecessors, out of the ruins of our parent system, imperial 
Rome. But this time, and for the first time, the effort is 
world-wide, and China and Iceland, Patagonia and Central 
Africa all swing together with us to make or into another 
catastrophic failure to make the Great State of man- 
\ kind. All this I had now distinctly in my mind. The 
new process I perceive had gone further in the west; was 
most developed in the west. The lighter end lifts first. 
So back I came away from the great body of mankind, 
which is Asia, to its head. And since I was still held by 
my promise from returning to England I betook myself 
first to the Pas de Calais and then to Belgium and thence 

240 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

into industrial Germany, to study the socialistic move- 
ment at its sources. 

And I was beginning to see too very clearly by the 
time of my return that what is confusedly called the labor 
problem is really not one problem at all, but two. There 
is the old problem, the problem as old as Zimbabwe and 
the pyramids, the declining problem, the problem of 
organizing masses of unskilled labor to the constructive 
ends of a Great State, and there is the new modification 
due to machinery, which has rendered unskilled labor and 
labor of a low grade of skill almost unnecessary to man- 
kind, added coal, oil, wind and water, the elementary 
school and the printing-press to our sources of power, and 
superseded the ancient shepherding and driving of men 
by the possibility of their intelligent and willing co-op- 
eration. The two are still mixed in every discussion, 
even as they are mixed in the practice of life, but inev- 
itably they will be disentangled. We break free from 
slavery, open or disguised, just as we illuminate and 
develop this disentanglement. . . . 

I have long since ceased to trouble about the economics 
of human society. Ours are not economic but psycholog- 
ical difficulties. There is enough for everyone, and only a 
fool can be found to deny it. But our methods of getting 
and making are still ruled by legal and social traditions 
from the time before we had tapped these new sources of 
power, before there was more than enough for everyone, 
and when a bare supply was only secured by jealous pos- 
session and unremitting toil. We have no longer to secure, 
enough by a stern insistence. We have come to a plentyj 
The problem now is to make that plenty go round, an<J 
keep it enough while we do. 

241 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Our real perplexities are altogether psychological. 
There are no valid arguments against a great-spirited 
Socialism but this, that people will not. Indolence, 
greed, meanness of spirit, the aggressiveness of authority, 
and above all jealousy, jealousy for our pride and vanity, 
jealousy for what we -esteem our possessions, jealousy 
for those upon whom we have set the heavy fetters of 
our love, a jealousy of criticism and association, these 
are the real obstacles to those brave large reconstructions, 
those profitable abnegations and brotherly feats of 
generosity that will yet turn human life of which our 
individual lives are but the momentary parts into a 
glad, beautiful and triumphant co-operation all round this 
sunlit world. 
| If but humanity could have its imagination touched 

I was already beginning to see the great problem of 
mankind as indeed nothing other than a magnification 
of the little problem of myself, as a problem in escape 
from grooves, from preoccupations and suspicions, pre- 
cautions and ancient angers, a problem of escape from 
these spiritual beasts that prowl and claw, to a new 
generosity and a new breadth of view. 

For all of us, little son, as for each of us, salvation is 
that. We have to get away from ourselves to a greater 
thing, to a giant's desire and an unending life, ours and 
yet not our own. 

6 

fit is a queer experience to be even for a moment in the 
grip of a great beast. I had been put into the fork of a 
tree, so that I could shoot with the big stem behind my 

242 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

back. The fork wasn't, I suppose, more than a score 
of feet from the ground. It was a safe enough place 
from a tiger, and that is what we expected. We had been 
misled by our tracker, who had mistaken the pugs of a 
big leopard for a tiger's, they were over rocky ground 
for the most part and he had only the spoor of a chance 
patch of half-dried mud to go upon. The beast had killed 
a goat and was beaten out of a thicket near by me in 
which he had been lying up. The probability had seemed 
that he would go away along a tempting ravine to where 
Captain Crosby, who was my host, awaited him; I, as the 
amateur, was intended to be little more than a spectator. 
But he broke back towards the wing of the line of beaters 
and came across the sunlit rocks within thirty yards of my 
post. 

Seen going along in that way, flattened almost to the 
ground, he wasn't a particularly impressive beast, and I 
shot at his shoulder as one might blaze away at a rabbit, 
perhaps just a little more carefully, feeling as a Lord 
of Creation should who dispenses a merited death. I 
expected him either to roll over or bolt. 

Then instantly he was coming in huge bounds towards 
me. . . . 

He came so rapidly that he was covered by the big limb 
of the tree on which I was standing until he was quite 
beneath me, and my second shot, which I thought in the 
instant must have missed him, was taken rapidly as he 
crouched to spring up the trunk. 

Then you know came a sort of astonishment, and I 
think, because afterwards Crosby picked up a dropped 
cartridge at the foot of the tree that I tried to reload. 
I believe I was completely incredulous that the beast 

243 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

was going to have me until he actually got me. The 
\ thing was too completely out of my imaginative picture. 
I don't believe I thought at all while he was coming up 
the tree. I merely noted how astonishingly he resembled 
an angry cat. Then he'd got my leg, he was hanging 
v on to it first by two claws and then by one claw, and 
the whole weight of him was pulling me down. It 
didn't seem to be my leg. I wasn't frightened, I felt 
absolutely nothing, I was amazed. I slipped, tried to 
get a hold on the tree trunk, felt myself being hauled 
down, and then got my arm about the branch. I still 
clung to my unloaded gun as an impoverished aristocrat 
might cling to his patent of nobility. That was, I felt, 
my answer for him yet. 

I suppose the situation lasted a fraction of a second, 
though it seemed to me to last an interminable time. 
Then I could feel my leggings rip and his claw go scoring 
deeply down my calf. That hurt in a kind of painless, 
impersonal interesting way. Was my leg coming off? 
Boot? The weight had gone, that enormous weight! 

He'd missed his hold altogether! I heard his claws 
tear down the bark of the tree and then his heavy, soft 
fall upon the ground. 

I achieved a cat-like celerity. In another second I 
was back in my fork reloading, my legs tucked up as 
tightly as possible. 

I peered down through the branches ready for him. 
He wasn't there. Not up the tree again? . . . Then I 
saw him making off, with a halting gait, across the scorch- 
ing rocks some thirty yards away, but I could not get my 
gun into a comfortable position before he was out of sight 
behind a ridge. ... I wondered why the sunlight seemed 

244 



THE BUSINESS OF MANKIND 

to be flickering like an electric light that fails, was some- 
how aware of blood streaming from my leg down the tree- 
stem; it seemed a torrent of blood, and there was a long, 
loose ribbon of flesh very sickening to see; and then I 
fainted and fell out of the tree, bruising my arm and 
cheek badly and dislocating my shoulder in the fall. . . . 
Some of the beaters saw me fall, and brought Crosby in 
sufficient time to improvise a torniquet and save my life. 






CHAPTER THE NINTH 
THE SPIRIT OP THE NEW WORLD 



1MET Rachel again in Germany through the devices 
of my cousin the Furstin Letzlingen. I had finished 
seeing what I wanted to see in Westphalia and I was 
preparing to go to the United States. There I thought 
I should be able to complete and round off that large 
view of the human process I had been developing in my 
mind. But my departure was delayed by an attack of 
influenza that I picked up at a Socialist Congress in 
Munich, and the dear Durchlaucht, hearing of this and 
having her own views of my destiny, descended upon me 
while I was still in bed there, made me get up and carried 
me off in her car, to take care of me herself at her villa 
at Boppard, telling me nothing of any fellow-guests I 
might encounter. 

She had a villa upon the Rhine under a hill of vine- 
yards, where she devoted herself she was a widow to 
matchmaking and belated regrets for the childlessness that 
necessitated a perpetual borrowing of material for her 
pursuit. She had a motor-car, a steam-launch, several 
rowing boats and canoes, a tennis-lawn, a rambling 
garden, a devious house and a rapid mind, and in fact 

246 



THE NEW WORLD 

everything that was necessary for throwing young people 
together. She made her surprise seem easy and natural, 
and with returning health I found myself already back 
upon my old footing of friendly intimacy with Rachel. 

I found her a new and yet a familiar Rachel. She had 
grown up, she was no longer a schoolgirl, crystalline 
clear with gleams of emotion and understanding, and what 
she had lost in transparency she had gained in depth. 
And she had become well-informed, she had been reading 
very widely and well, I could see, and not simply read- 
ing but talking and listening and thinking. She showed a 
vivid interest in the current of home politics, at that 
time the last government of Mr. Balfour was ebbing to 
its end and my old Transvaal friends, the Chinese coolies, 
were to avenge themselves on their importers. The 
Tariff Reformers my father detested were still struggling 
to unseat the Premier from his leadership of Conserva- 
tism. . . . 

It was queer to hear once more, after my Asiatic 
wanderings and dreamings, those West-End dinner-table 
politics, those speculations about "Winston's" future and 
the possibility of Lloyd George or Ramsay Macdonald or 
Macnamara taking office with the Liberals and whether 
there might not ultimately be a middle party in which 
Haldane and Balfour, Grey and the Cecils could meet 
upon common ground. It seemed now not only very 
small but very far off. She told me too of the huge 
popularity of King Edward. He had proved to be 
interested, curious, understanding and clever, an unex- 
pectedly successful King. She described how he was 
breaking out of the narrow official limits that had kept 
his mother in a kind of social bandbox, extending his 

247 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

solvent informality of friendliness to all sorts of men. 
He had won the heart of Will Crooks, the labor member for 
Poplar, for example, made John Burns a social success 
and warmed all France for England. 

I surveyed this novel picture of the English throne 
diffusing amiability. 

"I suppose it's what the throne ought to do," said 
Rachel. "If it can't be inspiration, at any rate it can 
tolerate and reconcile and take the ill-bred bitterness out 
of politics." 

"My father might have said that." 

"I got that from your father," she said; and added 
after a momentary pause, "I go over and talk to him." 

"You talk to my father!" 

" I like to. Or rather I listen and take it in. I go over 
in the afternoon. I go sometimes twice or three times a 
week." 

"That's kind of you." 

"Not at all. You see It sounds impudent, I 

know, for a girl to say so, but we've so many interests in 
common." 

2 

I was more and more interested by Rachel as the days 
went on. A man must be stupid who does not know 
that a woman is happy in his presence, and for two years 
now and more I had met no one with a very strong 
personal feeling for me. And quite apart from that, her 
mind was extraordinarily interesting to me because it 
was at once so active and so clear and so limited by her 
entirely English circumstances. She had the prosperous 

248 



THE NEW WORLD 

English outlook. She didn't so much see the wide world 
as get glimpses of it through the tangle of Westminster 
and of West End and week-end limitations. She wasn't 
even aware of that greater unprosperous England, already 
sulking and darkling outside her political world, that 
greater England which was presently to make its first 
audible intimations of discontent in that remarkable anti- 
climax to King George's Coronation, the. Railway Strike. 
India for her was the land of people's cousins, Germany 
and the German Dreadnoughts bulked far larger, and all 
the tremendous gathering forces of the East were beyond 
the range of her imagination. I set myself to widen her 
horizons. 

I told her something of the intention and range of my 
travels, and something of the views that were growing out 
of their experiences. 

I have a clear little picture in my mind of an excursion 
we made to that huge national Denkmal which rears its 
head out of the amiable vineyards of Assmannshausen and 
Rudesheim over against Bingen. We landed at the former 
place, went up its little funicular to eat our lunch and 
drink its red wine at the pleasant inn above, and then 
strolled along through the woods to the monument. 

The Furstin fell behind with her unwilling escort, a 
newly arrived medical student from England, a very 
pleasant youngster named Berwick, who was all too ob- 
viously anxious to change places with me. She devised 
delays, and meanwhile I, as yet unaware of the state of 
affairs, went on with Rachel to that towering florid 
monument with its vast gesticulating Germania, which 
triumphs over the conquered provinces. 

We fell talking of war and the passions and delusions 
249 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

that lead to war. Rachel's thoughts were strongly col- 
ored by those ideas of a natural rivalry between Germany 
and England and of a necessary revenge for France which 
have for nearly forty years diverted the bulk of European 
thought and energy to the mere waste of military prepara- 
tions. I jarred with an edifice of preconceptions when I 
scoffed and scolded at these assumptions. 

4 'Our two great peoples are disputing for the leader- 
ship of the world," I said, "and meanwhile the whole 
world sweeps past us. We're drifting into a quarrelsome 
backwater." 

I began to tell of the fermentation and new beginnings 
that were everywhere perceptible throughout the East, 
of the vast masses of human ability and energy that were 
coming into action in China and India, of the unlimited 
future of both North and South America, of the mere 
accidentalness of the European advantage. "History," 
I said, "is already shifting the significance out of Western 
Europe altogether, and we English cannot see it; we can 
see no further than Berlin, and these Germans can think 
of nothing better than to taunt the French with such 
tawdry effigies as this! Europe goes on to-day as India 
went on in the eighteenth century, making aimless history. 
And the sands of tfppfortunity run and run. ..." 

I shrugged my shoulders and we stood for a little 
while looking down on the shining crescent of the 
Rhine. 

"Suppose," said Rachel, "that someone were to say 
that in the House." 

"The House," I said, "doesn't hear things at my pitch. 
Bat outcries. Too shrill altogether." 

"It might. If you " 

250 



THE NEW WORLD 

She halted, hesitated for a moment on the question and 
asked abruptly: 

" When are you coming back to England, Mr. Stratton?" 

" Certainly not for six months," I said. 

A movement of her eyes made me aware of the Fiirstin 
and Berwick emerging from the trees. "And then?" 
asked Rachel. 

I didn't want to answer that question, in which the per- 
sonal note sounded so clearly. "I am going to America 
to see America," I said, "and America may be rather a 
big thing to see." 

"You must see it?" 

"I want to be sure of it as something comprehensive. 
I want to get a general effect of it. . . ." 

Rachel hesitated, looked back to measure the distance 
of the Fiirstin and her companion and put her question 
again, but this time with a significance that did not seem 
even to want to hide itself. " Then will you come back?" 
she said. 

Her face flamed scarlet, but her eyes met mine boldly. 
Between us there was a flash of complete understanding. 

My answer, if it was lame and ungallant to such a 
challenge, was at least perfectly honest. "I can't make 
up my mind," I said. "I've been near making plans 
taking steps. . . . Something holds me back. ..." 

I had no time for an explanation. 

"I can't make up my mind," I repeated. 

She stood for a moment rather stiffly, staring away 
towards the blue hills of Alsace. 

Then she turned with a smiling and undisturbed 
countenance to the Fiirstin. Her crimson had given 
place to white. "The triumph of it," she said with a 

251 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

slight gesture to the flamboyant Teutonism that towered 
over us, and boldly repeating words I had used scarcely 
&VQ minutes before, " makes me angry. They con- 
quered ungraciously. . . ." 

She had overlooked something in her effort to seem en- 
tirely self-possessed. She collapsed. "My dear!" she 
cried "I forgot!" 

"Oh! I'm only a German by marriage!" cried the 
Furstin. "And I can assure you I quite understand 
about the triumph of it. . . ." She surveyed the achieve- 
ment of her countrymen. "It is ungracious. But 
indeed it's only a sort of artlessness if you see the thing 
properly. . . . It's not vulgarity it's childishness. . . . 
They've hardly got over it yet their intense astonish- 
ment at being any good at war. . . . That large throaty 
Victory! She's not so militant as she seems. She's too 
plump. ... Of course what a German really appreciates is 
nutrition. But I quite agree with you both. . . .I'm be- 
ginning to want my tea, Mr. Stratton. . . . Rachel!" 

Her eyes had been on Rachel as she chattered. The 
girl had turned to the distant hills again, and had for- 
gotten even to pretend to listen to the answer she had 
evoked. Now she came back sharply to the sound of her 
name. 

"Tea?" said the Furstin. 

"Oh!" cried Rachel. "Yes. Yes, certainly. Rather. 
Tea." 

3 

It was clear to me that after that I must as people say 
"have things out" with Rachel. But before I could do 

252 



THE NEW WORLD 

anything of the sort the Furstin pounced upon me. She 
made me sit up that night after her other guests had gone 
to their rooms, in the cosy little turret apartment she called* 
her study and devoted to the reading of whatever was most 
notorious in contemporary British fiction. "Sit down," 
said she, "by the fire in that chair there and tell me all 
about it. It's no good your pretending you don't know 
what I mean. What are you up to with her, and why 
don't you go straight to your manifest destiny as a decent 
man should?" 

"Because manifestly it isn't my destiny," I said. 

"Stuff," said the Furstin. 

"You know perfectly well why I am out of England." 

"Everybody knows except of course quite young 
persons who are being carefully brought up." 

"Does she know?" 

"She doesn't seem to." 

"Well, that's what I want to know." 

"Need she know?" 

"Well, it does seem rather essential " 

"I suppose if you think so " 

"Will you tell her?" 

"Tell her yourself, if she must be told. Down there in 
Surrey, she must have seen things and heard things. But 
I don't see that she wants a lot of ancient history." 

" If it is ancient history !" 

"Oh! two years and a half, it's an Era." 

I made no answer to that, but sat staring into the fire 
while my cousin watched my face. At length I made my 
confession. "I don't think it is ancient history at all," 
I said. " I think if I met Mary again now " / 

"You mean Lady Mary Justin?" 
17 253 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"Of course." 

"It would be good for your mind if you remembered 
to call her by her proper name. . . . You think if you met 
her again you two would begin to carry on. But you see, 
you aren't going to meet her. Everybody will see that 
doesn't happen. " 

"I mean that I Well " 

"You'd better not say it. Besides, it's nonsense. I 
doubt if you've given her a thought for weeks and weeks." 

"Until I came here perhaps that was almost nearly 
true. But you've stirred me up, sweet cousin, and old 
things, old memories and habits have come to the surface 
again. Mary wrote herself over my life in all sorts of 
places. ... I can't tell you. I've never talked of her to 
anyone. I'm not able, very well, to talk about my feel- 
ings. . . . Perhaps a man of my sort doesn't love twice 
over." 

I disregarded a note of dissent from my cousin. "That 
was all so magic, all my youth, all my hope, all the splen- 
did adventure of it. Why should one pretend? ... I'm 
giving none of that to Rachel. It isn't there any more to 
give. . . ." 

"One would think," remarked the Furstin, "there was 
no gift of healing." 

She waited for me to speak, and then irritated by my 
silence struck at me sharply with that wicked little tongue 
of hers. 

" Do you think that Lady Mary Justin thinks of you as 
you think of her? Do you think she hasn't settled down?" 

I looked up at her quickly. 

"She's just going to have a second child," the Furstin 
flung out. 

254 






THE NEW WORLD 

Yes, that did astonish me. I suppose my face showed 
it. 

1 'That girl," said the Furstin, "that clean girl would 
have sooner died ten thousand deaths. . . . And she's 
never never been anything to you." 

I think that for an instant she had been frightened at 
her own words. She was now quite angry and short of 
breath. She had contrived a rapid indignation against 
Mary and myself. 

"I didn't know Mary had had any child at all," I 
said. 

"This makes two," said the Furstin, and held up a 
brace of fingers, "with scarcely a year and a half between 
them. Not much more anyhow. ... It was natural, I 
suppose. A natural female indecency. I don't blame 
her. When a woman gives in she ought to do it thorough- 
ly. But I don't see that it leaves you much scope for 
philandering, Stephen, does it? ... And there you are, and 
here is Rachel. And why don't you make a clean job of 
your life? . . ." 

"I didn't understand." 

" I wonder what you imagined." 

I reflected. "I wonder what I did. I suppose I 
thought of Mary just as I had left her always." 

I remained with my mind filled with confused images 
of Mary, memories, astonishment. . . . 

I perceived the Furstin was talking. 

"Maundering about," she was saying, "like a hunts- 
man without a horse. . . . You've got work to do blood 
in your veins. I'm not one of your ignorant women, 
Stephen. You ought to have a wife. . . ." 

"Rachel's too good," I said, at the end of a pause and 
255 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

perceiving I had to say something, "to be that sort of 
wife." 

"No woman's too good for a man," said the Furstin 
von Letzlingen with conviction. "It's what God made 
her for." 

4 

My visit to Boppard was drawing to an end before 
I had a clear opportunity to have things out with Rachel. 
It was in a little garden, under the very shadow of that 
gracious cathedral at Worms, the sort of little garden to 
which one is admitted by ringing a bell and tipping a 
custodian. I think Worms is in many respects one of the 
most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen, so perfectly pro- 
portioned, so delicately faded, so aloof, so free from pride 
or presumption, and it rises over this green and flowery 
peace, a towering, lithe, light brown, sunlit, easy thing, 
as unconsciously and irrelevantly splendid as a tall ship 
in the evening glow under a press of canvas. We looked 
up at it for a time and then went on with the talk to which 
we had been coming slowly since the Furstin had packed 
us off for it, while she went into the town with Berwick to 
buy toys for her gatekeeper's children. I had talked 
about myself, and the gradual replacement of my am- 
bition to play a part in imperial politics by wider inten- 
tions. "You know," I asked abruptly, "why I left 
England?" 

She thought through the briefest of pauses. "No," 
she decided at last. 

"I made love, 7 ' I said, "to Lady Mary Justin, and we 

were found out. We couldn't go away together " 

256 






THE NEW WORLD 

" Why not?" she interjected. 

"It was impossible." 

For some moments neither of us spoke. " Something," 
she said, and then, "Some vague report," and left these 
fragments to be her reply. 

"We were old playmates; we were children together. 
We have something that draws us to each other. 
She she made a mistake in marrying. We were both 
very young and the situation was difficult. And then 
afterwards we were thrown together. . . . But you see that 
has made a great difference to my life; it's turned me off 
the rails on which men of my sort usually run. I've had 
to look to these other things. . . . They've become more 
to me than to most people if only because of that. . . /' 

"You mean these ideas of yours learning as much 
as you can about the world, and then doing what you 
can to help other people to a better understanding." 

"Yes," I said. 

"And that will fill your life." 

"It ought to." 

"I suppose it ought. I suppose you find it does." 

"Don't you think it ought to fill my life?" 

"I wondered if it did." 

"But why shouldn't it?" 

"It's so so cold." 

My questioning silence made her attempt to explain. 

"One wants life more beautiful than that," she said. 

"One wants There are things one needs, things 

nearer one." 

' We became aware of a jangling at the janitor's bell. 
Our opportunity for talk was slipping away. And we 
were both still undecided, both blunderingly nervous 

257 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and insecure. We were hurried into clumsy phrases 
that afterwards we would have given much to recall. 

"But how could life be more beautiful," I said, "than 
when it serves big human ends?" 

Her brows were knit. She seemed to be listening 
for the sound of the unlocking gate. 

"But," she said, and plunged, "one wants to be loved. 
Surely one needs that." 

"You see, for me that's gone." 

"Why should it be gone?" 

"It is. One doesn't begin again. I mean myself. 
You can. You've never begun. Not when you've loved 
loved really." I forced that on her. I over empha- 
sized. "It was real love, you know; the real thing. . . . 
I don't mean the mere imaginative love, blindfold love, 
but love that sees. ... I want you to understand that. 
I loved altogether. ..." 

Across the lawn under its trim flowering-trees appeared 
Berwick loaded with little parcels, and manifestly eager 
to separate us, and the Furstin as manifestly putting on the 
drag. 

"There's a sort of love," I hurried, "that doesn't renew 
itself ever. Don't let yourself believe it does. Some- 
thing else may come in its place, but that is different. 
It's youth, a wonderful newness. . . . Look at that 
youngster. He can love you like that. I've watched 
him. He does. You know he does. ..." 

"Yes," she said, as hurriedly; "but then, you see, I 
don't love him." 

"You don't?" 

"I can't." 

"But he's such a fresh clean human being " 

258 



THE NEW WORLD 

" That's not all," said Rachel. "That's not all. . . . 
You don't understand." 

The two drew near. * ' It is so hard to explain, ' ' she said. 
"Things that one hardly sees for oneself. Sometimes it 
seems one cannot help oneself. You can't choose. You 
are taken. ..." She seemed about to say something 
more, and stopped and bit her lip. 

In another moment I was standing up, and the Furstin 
was calling to us across ten feet of space. "Such amoosin' 
little toyshops. We've got a heap of things. Just look 
at him!" 

He smiled over his load with anxious eyes upon our 
faces. 

"Ten separate parcels," he said, appealing for Rachel's 
sympathy. "I'm doing my best not to complain." 

And rather adroitly he contrived to let two of them slip, 
and captured Rachel to assist him. 

He didn't relinquish her again. 



5 

The Furstin and I followed them along the broad, 
pleasant, tree-lined street towards the railway station. 

"A boy of that age ought not to marry a girl of that 
age," said the Furstin, breaking a silence. 

I didn't answer. 

"Well?" she said, domineering. ^ c 

"My dear cousin," I said, "I know all that 
in your mind. I admit I covet her. You cangi ne 
me more jealous than I am. She's clean and, n so 
it is marvellous how the God of the rest of the * 

259 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

have made a thing so brave and honest and wonderful. 
She's better than flowers. But I think I'm going away 
to-night, nevertheless." 

"You don't mean you're going to carry chivalry to 
the point of giving that boy a chance for he hasn't 
one while you're about." 

"No. You see I want to give Rachel a chance. 
You know as well as I do the things in my mind." 

"That you've got to forget." 

"That I don't forget." 

"That you're bound in honor to forget. And who 
could help you better?" 

"I'm going," I said and then, wrathfully, "If you think 
I want to use Rachel as a sort of dressing for my old 
sores " 

I left the sentence unfinished. 

"Oh nonsense!" cried the Furstin, and wouldn't speak 
to me again until we got to that entirely Teutonic 
"art" station that is not the least among the sights of 
Worms. 

"Sores, indeed!" said the Furstin presently, as we 
walked up the end of the platform. 

"There's nothing," said the Furstin, with an unusual 
note of petulance, "she'd like better." 

"I can't think what men are coming to," she went on. 
"You're in love with her, or you wouldn't be so generous. 
And she's head over heels with you. And here you are! 

''11 give you one more chance " 

don't yon't take it," I interrupted. "It isn't fair. I tell 

"Yot[ n 't take it. I'll go two days earlier to prevent 

"I cai^ss you promise me Of course I see how 

"But >e with her. She's not a sphinx. But it isn't 

260 
\ 



THE NEW WORLD 

fair. It isn't. Not to her, or to him or myself. He's 
got some claims. He's got more right to her than I. . . ." 

1 1 A boy like that ! No man has any rights about women 
until he's thirty. And as for me and all the pains I've 

taken Oh! I hate Worms. Dust and ashes! Well 

here thank heaven! comes the train. If nothing else 
could stir you, Stephen, at least I could have imagined 
some decent impulse of gratitude to me. Stephen, you're 
disgusting. You've absolutely spoilt this trip for me 
absolutely. When only a little reasonableness on your 
part Oh!" 

She left her sentence unfinished. 

Berwick and I had to make any conversation that 
was needed on the way back to Boppard. Rachel did not 
talk and the Furstin did not want to. 



6 

Directly I had parted from Rachel's questioning eyes 
I wanted to go back to them. It seems to me now that 
all the way across to America, in that magnificent German 
liner I joined at Hamburg, I was thinking in confused 
alternations of her and of Mary. There are turns of 
thought that still bring back inseparably with them the 
faint echo of the airs of the excellent but industrious band 
that glorified our crossing. 

I had been extraordinarily shocked and concerned at 
the thought of Mary bearing children. It is a grotesque 
thing to confess but I had never let myself imagine the 
possibility of such a thing for her who had been so im- 
mensely mine. . . . 

261 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

We are the oddest creatures, little son, beasts and 
barbarians and brains, neither one nor the other but all 
confusedly, and here was I who had given up Mary and 
resigned her and freed myself from her as I thought al- 
together, cast back again into my old pit by the most 
obvious and necessary consequence of her surrender and 
mine. And it's just there and in that relation that we men 
and women are so elaborately insecure. We try to love 
as equals and behave as equals and concede a level 
freedom, and then comes a crisis, our laboriously con- 
trived edifice of liberty collapses and we perceive that so 
far as sex goes the woman remains to the man no more 
than a possession capable of loyalty or treachery. 

There, still at that barbaric stage, the situation stands. 
You see I had always wanted to own Mary, and always 
she had disputed that. That is our whole story, the 
story of an instinctive subjugation struggling against a 
passionate desire for fellowship. She had denied herself 
to me, taken herself away; that much I could endure; 
but now came this blazing fact that showed her as it seemed 
in the most material and conclusive way overcome. I 
had storms of retrospective passion at the thoroughness of 
her surrender. . . . Yes, and that's in everyone of us, 
in everyone. I wonder if in all decent law-abiding London 
there lives a single healthy adult man who has not at 
times longed to trample and kill. . . . 

For once I think theFurstin miscalculated consequences. 
I think I should have engaged myself to Rachel before 
I went to America if it had not been for the Furstin's 
revelation, but this so tore me that I could no longer go on 
falling in love again, naturally and sweetly. No man 
falls in love if he has just been flayed. ... I could no 

262 



THE NEW WORLD 

longer think of Rachel except as a foil to Mary. I was 
moved to marry her by a new set of motives ; to fling her 
so to speak in Mary's face, and from the fierce vulgarity 
of that at least I recoiled and let her go as I have told 
you. 



I had thought all that was over. 

I remember my struggles to recover my peace. 

I remember how very late one night I went up to the 
promenade deck to smoke a cigar before turning in. 
It was a warm moonlight night. The broad low waves 
of ebony water that went seething past below, foamed 
luminous and were streaked and starred with phos- 
phorescence. The recumbent moon, past its full and sink- 
ing westward, seemed bigger than I had ever seen it before, 
and the roundness of the watery globe was manifest about 
the edge of the sky. One had that sense so rare on land, 
so common in the night at sea, of the world as a conceiv- 
able sphere, and of interstellar space as of something clear 
and close at hand. 

There came back to me again that feeling I had lost for 
a time in Germany of being not myself but Man con- 
sciously on his little planet communing with God. 

But my spirit was saying all the time, " I am still in my 
pit, in my pit. After all I am still in my pit." 

And then there broke the answer on my mind, that all 
our lives we must struggle out of our pits, that to struggle 
out of our pit is this life, there is no individual life but 
that, and that there comes no escape here, no end to that 
effort, until the release of death. Continually or fre- 

263 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

quently we may taste salvation, but never may we achieve 
it while we are things of substance. Each moment in 
our lives we come to the test and are lost again or saved 
again. To be assured of one's security is to forget and 
fall away. 

And standing at the rail with these thoughts in my mind, 
suddenly I prayed. . . . 

I remember how the engine-throbs beat through me 
like the beating of a heart, and that far below, among the 
dim lights that came up from the emigrants in the steer- 
age, there was a tinkling music as I prayed and a man's 
voice singing a plaintive air in some strange Slavonic 
tongue. 

That voice of the invisible singer and the spirit of the 
unknown song-maker and the serenity of the sky, they were 
all, I perceived, no more and no less than things in myself 
that I did not understand. They were out beyond the 
range of understanding. And yet they fell into the 
completest harmony that night with all that I seemed 
to understand. . . . 

8 

The onset of New York was extraordinarily stimulat- 
ing to me. I write onset. It is indeed that. New 
York rides up out of the waters, a cliff of man's making; 
its great buildings at a distance seem like long Chinese 
banners held up against the sky. From Sandy Hook 
to the great landing stages and the swirling hooting 
traffic of the Hudson River there fails nothing in that 
magnificent crescendo of approach. 

And New York keeps the promise of its first appear- 
264 



THE NEW WORLD 

ance. There is no such fulness of life elsewhere in all 
the world. The common man in the streets is a bigger 
common man than any Old World city can show, physic- 
ally bigger; there is hope in his eyes and a braced de- 
fiance. New York may be harsh and blusterous and 
violent, but there is a breeze from the sea and a breeze 
of fraternity in the streets, and the Americans of all 
peoples in the world are a nation of still unbroken men. 

I went to America curious, balancing between hope 
and scepticism. The European world is full of the 
criticism of America, and for the matter of that America 
too is full of it; hostility and depreciation prevail, over- 
much, for in spite of rawness and vehemence and a scum 
of blatant, oh! quite asinine folly, the United States of 
America remains the greatest country in the world and the 
living hope of mankind. It is the supreme break with the 
old tradition; it is the freshest and most valiant beginning 
that has ever been made in human life. 

Here was the antithesis of India; here were no peasants 
whatever, no traditional culture, no castes, no established 
differences (except for the one schism of color); this 
amazing place had never had a famine, never a plague; 
here were no temples and no priesthoods dominating 
the lives of the people, old Trinity church embedded 
amidst towering sky-scrapers was a symbol for as much 
as they had of all that; and here too there was no crown, 
no affectations of an ancient loyalty, no visible army, no 
traditions of hostility, for the old defiance of Britain is a 
thing now ridiculous and dead; and everyone I met had 
an air as if he knew that to-morrow must be different from 
to-day and different and novel and remarkable by virtue 
of himself and such as himself. 

265 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I went about New York, with the incredulous satis- 
faction of a man who has long doubted, to find that after 
all America was coming true. The very clatter pleased 
me, the crowds, the camp-like slovenliness, a disorder so 
entirely different from the established and accepted 
untidiness of China or India. Here was something the 
old world had never shown me, a new enterprise, a fresh 
vigor. In the old world there is Change, a mighty wave 
now of Change, but it drives men before it as if it were 
a power outside them and not in them; they do not know, 
they do not believe; but here the change is in the very 
blood and spirit of mankind. They breathe it in even 
before the launch has brought their feet to Ellis Island 
soil. In six months they are Americanized. Does it 
matter that a thing so gigantic should be a little coarse 
and blundering in detail, if this stumbling giant of the new 
time breaks a gracious relic or so in his eager clutch and 
treads a little on the flowers? 



9. 

And in this setting of energy and activity, towering 
city life and bracing sea breezes, I met Gidding again, 
whom I had last seen departing into Egypt to look more 
particularly at the prehistoric remains and the temples 
of the first and second dynasty at Abydos. It was at a 
dinner-party, one of those large gatherings that welcome 
interesting visitors. It wasn't, of course, I who was the 
centre of interest, but a distinguished French portrait 
painter; I was there as just any, guest. I hadn't even 
perceived Gidding until he came round to me in that 

266 



THE NEW WORLD 

precious gap of masculine intercourse that ensues upon the 
departure of the ladies. That gap is one of the rare oppor- 
tunities for conversation men get in America. 

"I don't know whether you will remember me," he 
said, "but perhaps you remember Crete in the sun- 
rise." 

"And no end of talk afterwards," I said, grasping his 
hand, "no end for we didn't half finish. Did you have 
a good time in Egypt?" 

"I'm not going to talk to you about Egypt," said 
Gidding. "I'm through with ruins. I'm going to ask 
you you know what I'm going to ask you." 

"What I think of America. It's the same inevitable 
question. I think everything of it. It's the stepping- 
off place. I've come here at last, because it matters 
most." 

"That's what we all want to believe," said Gidding. 
"That's what we want you to tell us." 

He reflected. "It's immense, isn't it, perfectly im- 
mense? But I am afraid at times we're too dis- 
posed to forget just what it's all about. We've got to be 
reminded. That, you know, is why we keep on asking." 

He went on to question me where I had been, what 
I had done, what I made of things. He'd never, he said, 
forgotten our two days' gossip in the Levant, and all the 
wide questions about the world and ourselves that we had 
broached then and left so open. I soon found myself 
talking very freely to him. I am not a ready or abundant 
talker, but Gidding, has the knack of precipitating my 
ideas. He is America to my Europe, and at his touch all 
that has been hanging in concentrated solution in my 
mind comes crystallizing out. He has to a peculiar de- 

267 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

gree that directness and simplicity which is the distinctive 
American quality. I tried to explain to his solemnly 
nodding head and entirely intelligent eyes just exactly 
what I was making of things, of the world, of humanity, of 
myself. . . . 

It was an odd theme for two men to attempt after 
dinner, servants hovering about them, their two faces a 
little flushed by wine and good eating, their keen interest 
masked from the others around them by a gossiping 
affectation, their hands going out as they talked for 
matches or cigarette, and before we had gone further than 
to fling out a few intimations to each other our colloquy 
was interrupted by our host standing up and by the 
general stir that preluded our return to feminine society. 
' ' We've got more to say than this, ' ' said Gidding. * ' We've 
got to talk." He brought out a little engagement book 
that at once drew out mine in response. And a couple of 
days after, we spent a morning and afternoon together 
and got down to some very intimate conversation. We 
motored out to lunch at a place called Nyack, above the 
Palisades, we crossed on a ferry to reach it, and we visited 
the house of Washington Irving near Yonkers on our way. 

I've still a vivid picture in my mind of the little lawn 
at Irvington that looks out upon the rushing steel of 
Hudson River, where Gidding opened his heart to me. 
I can see him now as he leant a little forward over the 
table, with his wrists resting upon it, his long clean- 
shaven face very solemn and earnest and grey against the 
hard American sunlight in the greenery about us, while 
he told me in that deliberate American voice of his and 
with the deliberate American solemnity, of his desire to 
"do some decent thing with life." 

268 



THE NEW WORLD 

He was very anxious to set himself completely before 
me, I remember, on that occasion. There was a peculiar 
mental kinship between us that even the profound dif- 
ferences of our English and American trainings could 
not mask. And now he told me almost everything ma- 
terial about his life. For the first time I learnt how 
enormously rich he was, not only by reason of his father's 
acquisitions, but also because of his own almost instinctive 
aptitude for business. "I've got," he said, "to begin 
with, what almost all men spend their whole lives in trying 
to get. And it amounts to nothing. It leaves me with 
life like a blank sheet of paper, and nothing in particular 
to write on it." 

' ' You know, ' ' he said, * ' it's exasperating. I'm already 
half-way to three-score and ten, and I'm still wandering 
about wondering what to do with this piece of life God 
has given me. ..." 

He had "lived" as people say, he had been in scrapes 
and scandals, tasted to the full the bitter intensities of the 
personal life; he had come by a different route to the same 
conclusions as myself, was as anxious as I to escape from 
memories and associations and feuds and that excessive 
vividness of individual feeling which blinds us to the 
common humanity, the common interest, the gentler, 
larger reality, which lies behind each tawdrily emphatic 
self 

"It's a sort of inverted homoeopathy I want," he said. 
"The big thing to cure the little thing " 

But I will say no more of that side of our friendship, 
because the ideas of it are spread all through this book 

from the first page to the last What concerns me now 

is not our sympathy and agreement, but that other aspect 
18 26 9 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

of our relations in which Gidding becomes impulse and 
urgency. "Seeing we have these ideas," said he, "and 
mind you there must be others who have them or are 
getting to them, for nobody thinks all alone in this world, 
seeing we have these ideas what are we going to do? " 



10 

That meeting was followed by another before I left 
New York, and presently Gidding joined me at Denver, 
where I was trying to measure the true significance of 
a labor paper called The Appeal to Reason that, in spite 
of a rigid boycott by the ordinary agencies for news dis- 
tribution went out in the middle west to nearly half a 
million subscribers, and was filled with such a fierceness of 
insurrection against labor conditions, such a hatred, blind 
and impassioned, as I had never known before. Gidding 
remained with me there and came back with me to Chicago, 
where I wanted to see something of the Americanization 
of the immigrant, and my survey of America, the social 
and economic problem of America, resolved itself more and 
more into a conference with him. 

t There is no more fruitless thing in the world than to 

I speculate how life would have gone if this thing or that had 

.^not happened. Yet I cannot help but wonder how far 

I might have travelled along the lines of my present work 

% if I had gone to America and not met Gidding, or if I had 

met him without visiting America. The man and his 

country are inextricably interwoven in my mind. Yet 

I do think that his simplicity and directness, his force of 

initiative that turned me from a mere enquirer into an 

270 



THE NEW WORLD 

active writer and organizer, are qualities less his in par- 
ticular than America's in general. There is in America 
a splendid crudity, a directness that cleared my spirit as a 
bracing wind will sweep the clouds from mountain scenery. 
Compared with our older continents America is mankind 
stripped for achievement. So many things are not there 
at all, need not be considered; no institutional aristocracy, 
no Kaisers, Czars, nor King-Emperors to maintain a 
litigious sequel to the Empire of Rome; it has no unedu- 
cated immovable peasantry rooted to the soil, indeed it 
has no rooting to the soil at all; it is, from the Forty- 
ninth Parallel to the tip of Cape Horn, one triumphant 
embodiment of freedom and deliberate agreement. For 
I mean all America, Spanish-speaking as well as English- 
speaking; they have this detachment from tradition in 
common. See how the United States, for example, stands 
flatly on that bare piece of eighteenth-century intellec- 
tualism the Constitution, and is by virtue of that a struc- 
ture either wilful and intellectual or absurd. That sense 
of incurable servitude to fate and past traditions, that 
encumbrance with ruins, pledges, laws and ancient in- 
stitutions, that perpetual complication of considerations 
and those haunting memories of preceding human fail- 
ures which dwarf the courage of destiny in Europe and 
Asia, vanish from the mind within a week of one's arrival 
in the New World. Naturally one begins to do things. 
One is inspired to do things. One feels that one has es- 
caped, one feels that the time is now. All America, North 
and South alike, is one tremendous escape from ancient 
obsessions into activity and making. 

And by the time I had reached America I had already 
come to see that just as the issues of party politics at home 

271 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and international politics abroad are mere superficialities 
above the greater struggle of an energetic minority to 
organize and exploit the labor of the masses of mankind, 
so that struggle also is only a huge incident in the still 
more than half unconscious impulse to replace the ancient 
way of human living by a more highly organized world- 
wide social order, by a world civilization embodying itself 
in a World State. And I saw now how that impulse could 
neither cease nor could it on the other hand realize itself 
until it became conscious and deliberate and merciful, 
free from haste and tyranny, persuasive and sustained 
by a nearly universal sympathy and understanding. For 
until that arrives the creative forces must inevitably 
spend themselves very largely in blind alleys, futile rushes 
and destructive conflicts. Upon that our two minds 
were agreed. 

"We have," said Gidding, "to understand and make 
understanding. That is the real work for us to do, 
Stratton, that is our job. The world, as you say, has 
been floundering about, half making civilization and never 
achieving it. Now we, I don't mean just you and me, 
Stratton, particularly, but every intelligent man among 
us, have got to set to and make it thorough. There is no 
< other sane policy for a man outside his private passions 
but that. So let's get at it " 

I find it now impossible to trace the phases by which 
I reached these broad ideas upon which I rest all my work, 
but certainly they were present very early in my dis- 
cussions with Gidding. We two men had been thinking 
independently but very similarly, and it is hard to say 
just what completing touches either of us gave to the 
other's propositions. We found ourselves rather than 

272 



THE NEW WORLD 

arrived at the conception of ourselves as the citizens 
neither of the United States nor of England but of a state 
that had still to come into being, a World State, a great 
unity behind and embracing the ostensible political 
fabrics of to-day a unity to be reached by weakening 
antagonisms, by developing understandings and tolera- 
tion, by fostering the sense of brotherhood across the 
ancient bounds. 

We believed and we believe that such a creative con- 
ception of a human commonweal can be fostered in exactly 
the same way that the idea of German unity was fostered 
behind the dukedoms, the free cities and kingdoms of 
Germany, a conception so creative that it can dissolve 
traditional hatreds, incorporate narrower loyalties and 
replace a thousand suspicions and hostilities by a common 
passion for collective achievement, so creative that at 
last the national boundaries of to-day may become ob- 
stacles as trivial to the amplifying good-will of men as the 
imaginary line that severs Normandy from Brittany, or 
Berwick from Northumberland. 

i And it is not only a great peace about the earth that this 
idea of a World State means for us, but social justice also. 
We are both convinced altogether that there survives no 
reason for lives of toil, for hardship, poverty, famine, in- 
fectious disease, for the continuing cruelties of wild beasts 
and the greater multitude of crimes, but mismanagement 
and waste, and that mismanagement and waste spring 
from no other source than ignorance and from stupid 
divisions and jealousies, base patriotisms, fanaticisms, 
prejudices and suspicions that are all no more than 
ignorance a little mingled with viciousness. We have 
looked closely into this servitude of modern labor, we 

273 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

have seen its injustice fester towards syndicalism and 
revolutionary socialism, and we know these things for the 
mere aimless, ignorant resentments they are; punishments, 
not remedies. We have looked into the portentous 
threat of modern war, and it is ignorant vanity and 
ignorant suspicion, the bargaining aggression of the 
British prosperous and the swaggering vulgarity of the 
German junker that make and sustain that monstrous 
European devotion to arms. And we are convinced 
there is nothing in these evils and conflicts that light may 
not dispel. We believe that these things can be dispelled, 
that the great universals, Science which has limitations 
neither of race nor class, Art which speaks to its own in 
every rank and nation, Philosophy and Literature which 
broaden sympathy and banish prejudice, can flood and 
submerge and will yet flow over and submerge every one 
of these separations between man and man. 

I will not say that this Great State, this World Re- 
public of civilized men, is our dream, because it is not a 
dream, it is a manifestly reasonable possibility. It is our 
intention. It is what we are deliberately making and what 
in a little while very many men and women will be making. 
We are secessionists from all contemporary nationalities 
\ and loyalties. We have set ourselves with all the capacity 
I and energy at our disposal to create a world-wide common 
I fund of ideas and knowledge, and to evoke a world-wide 
Uense of human solidarity in which the existing limitations 
of political structure must inevitably melt away. 

It was Gidding and his Americanism, his inborn pre- 
disposition to innovation and the large freedom of his 
wealth that turned these ideas into immediate concrete 
undertakings. I see more and more that it is here that 

274 



THE NEW WORLD 

we of the old European stocks, who still grow upon the 
old wood, differ most from those vigorous grafts of our 
race in America and Africa and Australia on the one hand 
and from the renascent peoples of the East on the other: 
that we have lost the courage of youth and have not yet 
gained the courage of desperate humiliations, in taking 
hold of things. To Gidding it was neither preposterous 
nor insufferably magnificent that we should set about a 
propaganda of all science, all knowledge, all philosophical 
and political ideas, round about the habitable globe. His 
mind began producing concrete projects as a fire-work 
being lit produces sparks, and soon he was " figuring out" 
the most colossal of printing and publishing projects, as a 
man might work out the particulars for an alteration to 
his bathroom. It was so entirely natural to him, it was 
so entirely novel to me, to go on from the proposition that 
understanding was the primary need of humanity to the 
systematic organization of free publishing, exhaustive 
discussion, intellectual stimulation. He set about it as a 
company of pharmacists might organize the distribution 
of some beneficial cure. 

"Say, Stratton," he said, after a conversation that 
had seemed to me half fantasy; "Let's do it." 

There are moments still when it seems to me that this 
life of mine has become the most preposterous of adven- 
tures. We two absurd human beings are spending our 
days and nights in a sustained and growing attempt to 
do what? To destroy certain obsessions and to give the 
universal human mind a form and a desire for expression. 
We have put into the shape of one comprenhensive project 
that force of released wealth that has already dotted 
America with universities, libraries, institutions for re- 

275 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

search and enquiry. Already there are others at work 
with us, and presently there will be a great number. We 
have started an avalanche above the old politics and it 
gathers mass and pace. . . . 

And there never was an impulse towards endeavor in a 
human heart that wasn't preposterous. Man is a pre- 
posterous animal. Thereby he ceases to be a creature 
and becomes a creator, he turns upon the powers that 
made him and subdues them to his sendee ; by his sheer 
impudence he establishes his claim to possess a soul. . . . 

But I need not write at all fully of my work here. 
This book is not about that but about my coming to that. 
Long before this manuscript reaches your hands if 
ultimately I decide that it shall reach your hands you 
will be taking your share, I hope, in this open conspiracy 
against potentates and prejudices and all the separating 
powers of darkness. 



ii 

I would if I could omit one thing that I must tell you 
here, because it goes so close to the very core of all this 
book has to convey. I wish I could leave it out altogether. 
I wish I could simplify my story by smoothing out this 
wrinkle at least and obliterating a thing that was at once 
very real and very ugly. You see I had at last struggled 
up to a sustaining idea, to a conception of work and duty 
to which I could surely give my life. I had escaped from 
my pit so far. And it was natural that now with some- 
thing to give I should turn not merely for consolation and 
service but for help and fellowship to that dear human 
being across the seas who had offered them to me so 

276 



THE NEW WORLD 

straightly and sweetly. All that is brave and good and 
as you would have me, is it not? Only, dear son, that is 
not all the truth. 

There was still in my mind, for long it remained in 
my mind, a bitterness against Mary. I had left her, I 
had lost her, we had parted; but from Germany to America 
and all through America and home again to my marriage 
and with me after my marriage, it rankled that she could 
still go on living a life independent of mine. I had not 
yet lost my desire to possess her, to pervade and dominate 
her existence; my resentment that though she loved me 
she had first not married me and afterwards not consented 
to come away with me was smouldering under the closed 
hatches of my mind. And so while the better part of me 
was laying hold of this work because it gave me the hope 
of a complete distraction and escape from my narrow and 
jealous self, that lower being of the pit was also rejoicing 
in the great enterprises before me and in the marriage 
upon which I had now determined, because it was a last 
trampling upon my devotion to Mary, because it defied 
and denied some lurking claims to empire I could suspect 
in her. I want to tell you that particularly because so I 
am made, so you are made, so most of us are made. There 
is scarcely a high purpose in all the world that has no 
dwarfish footman at its stirrup, no base intention over 
which there does not ride at least the phantom of an 
angel. 

Constantly in those days, it seems to me now, I was 
haunted by my own imagination of Mary amiably rec- 
onciled to Justin, bearing him children, forgetful of or 
repudiating all the sweetness, all the wonder and beauty 
we had shared. ... It was an unjust and ungenerous con- 

277 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

ception, I knew it for a caricature even as I entertained it, 
and yet it tormented me. It stung me like a spur. It 
kept me at work, and if I strayed into indolence brought 
me back to work with a mind galled and bleeding. . . . 



12 

And I suppose it is mixed up with all this that I could 
not make love easily and naturally to Rachel. I could 
not write love-letters to her. There is a burlesque 
quality in these scruples, I know, seeing that I was 
now resolved to marry her, but that is the quality, that 
is the mixed texture of life. We overcome the greater 
things and are conscience-stricken by the details. 

I wouldn't, even at the price of losing her and I was 
now passionately anxious not to lose her use a single 
phrase of endearment that did not come out of me almost 
in spite of myself. At any rate I would not cheat her. 
And my offer of marriage when at last I sent it to her from 
Chicago was, as I remember it, almost business-like. I 
atoned soon enough for that arid letter in ten thousand 
sweet words that came of themselves to my lips. And she 
paid me at any rate in my own coin when she sent me her 
answer by cable, the one word "Yes." 

And indeed I was already in love with her long before 
I wrote. It was only a dread of giving her a single un- 
deserved cheapness that had held me back so long. It 
was that and the perplexity that Mary still gripped my 
feelings; my old love for her was there in my heart in spite 
of my new passion for Rachel, it was blackened perhaps 
and ruined and changed but it was there. It was as if 

278 



THE NEW WORLD 

a new crater burnt now in the ampler circumference 
of an old volcano, which showed all the more desolate 
and sorrowful and obsolete for the warm light of the 
new flames. . . . 

How impatiently I came home! Thoughts of England 
I had not dared to think for three long years might now 
do what they would in me. I dreamt of the Surrey 
Hills and the great woods of Burnmore Park, of the chang- 
ing skies and stirring soft winds of our grey green Mother- 
land. There was fog in the Irish Sea, and we lost the better 
part of a day hooting our way towards Liverpool while 
I fretted about the ship with all my luggage packed, 
staring at the grey waters that weltered under the mist. 
It was the longest day in my life. My heart was full of 
desire, my eyes ached for the little fields and golden October 
skies of England, England that was waiting to welcome 
me back from my exile with such open arms. I was 
coming home, home. 

I hurried through London into Surrey and in my 
father's study, warned by a telegram, I found a bright- 
eyed, resolute young woman awaiting me, with the quality 
about her of one who embarks upon a long premeditated 
adventure. And I found too a family her sisters and her 
brother all gladly ready for me, my father too was a happy 
man, and on the eighth of November in 1906 Rachel and 
I were married in the little church at Shere. We stayed 
for a week or so in Hampshire near Ringwood, the season 
was late that year and the trees still very beautiful; and 
then we went to Portofino on the Ligurian coast. 

There presently Gidding joined us and we began to 
work out the schemes we had made in America, the 
schemes that now fill my life. 

279 



CHAPTER THE TENTH 
MARY WRITES 

i 

IT was in the early spring of 1909 that I had a letter 
from Mary. 

By that time my life was set fully upon its present 
courses, Gidding and I had passed from the stage of 
talking and scheming to definite undertakings. Indeed 
by 1909 things were already organized upon their present 
lines. We had developed a huge publishing establish- 
ment with one big printing plant in Barcelona and another 
in Manchester, and we were studying the peculiar difficul- 
ties that might attend the establishment of a third plant 
in America. Our company was an English company 
under the name of Alphabet and Mollentrave, and we 
were rapidly making it the broadest and steadiest flow 
of publication the world had ever seen. Its streams al- 
ready reached further and carried more than any single 
firm had ever managed to do before. We were reprinting, 
in as carefully edited and revised editions as we could, the 
whole of the English, Spanish and French literature, and 
we were only waiting for the release of machinery to 
attack German, Russian and Italian, and were giving 
each language not only its own but a very complete series 

280 



MARY WRITES 

of good translations of the classical writers in every other 
tongue. We had a little band of editors and translators 
permanently in our service at each important literary 
centre. We had, for example, more than a score of men 
at work translating Bengali fiction and verse into English, 
a lot of that new literature is wonderfully illuminating 
to an intelligent Englishman and we had a couple of men 
hunting about for new work in Arabic. We meant to give 
so good and cheap a book, and to be so comprehensive 
in our choice of books, excluding nothing if only it was 
real and living, on account of any inferiority of quality, 
obscurity of subject or narrowness of demand, that in the 
long run anybody, anywhere, desiring to read anything 
would turn naturally and inevitably to our lists. 

Ours was to be in the first place a world literature. 
Then afterwards upon its broad currents of distribution 
and in the same forms we meant to publish new work 
and new thought. We were also planning an encyclo- 
paedia. Behind our enterprise of translations and re- 
prints we were getting together and putting out a series 
of guide-books, gazetteers, dictionaries, text-books and 
books of reference, and we were organizing a revising staff 
for these, a staff that should be constantly keeping them 
up to date. It was our intention to make every copy 
we printed bear the date of its last revision in a con- 
spicuous place, and we hoped to get the whole line of 
these books ultimately upon an annual basis, and to sell 
them upon repurchasing terms that would enable us to 
issue a new copy and take back and send the old one to 
the pulping mill at a narrow margin of profit. Then we 
meant to spread our arms wider, and consolidate and 
offer our whole line of text-books, guide-books and gazet- 

281 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

teers, bibliographies, atlases, dictionaries and directories 
as a new World Encyclopaedia, that should also annually 
or at longest biennially renew its youth. 

So far we had gone in the creation of a huge interna- 
tional organ of information, and of a kind of gigantic 
modern Bible of world literature, and in the process of 
its distribution we were rapidly acquiring an immense 
detailed knowledge of the book and publishing trade, 
finding congestions here, neglected opportunities there, 
and devising and drawing up a hundred schemes for 
relief, assistance, amalgamation and rearrangement. We 
had branches in China, Japan, Peru, Iceland and a thou- 
sand remote places that would have sounded as far off 
as the moon to an English or American bookseller in the 
seventies. China in particular was a growing market. 
We had a subsidiary company running a flourishing line 
of book shops in the east-end of London, and others in 
New Jersey, Chicago, Buenos Ayres, the South of France, 
and Ireland. Incidentally we had bought up some 
thousands of miles of Labrador forest to ensure our paper 
supply, and we could believe that before we died there 
would not be a corner of the world in which any book of 
interest or value whatever would not be easily attainable 
by any intelligent person who wanted to read it. And 
already we were taking up the more difficult and ambi- 
tious phase of our self-appointed task, and considering 
the problem of using these channels we were mastering 
and deepening and supplementing for the stimulation 
and wide diffusion of contemporary thought. 

There we went outside the province of Alphabet and 
Mollentrave and into an infinitely subtler system of 
interests. We wanted to give sincere and clear-thinking 

282 



MARY WRITES 

writers encouragement and opportunity, to improve the 
critical tribunal and make it independent of advertising 
interests, so that there would be a readier welcome for 
luminous thinking and writing and a quicker explosion 
of intellectual imposture. We sought to provide guides 
and intelligencers to contemporary thought. We had 
already set up or subsidized or otherwise aided a certain 
number of magazines and periodicals that seemed to us 
independent-spirited, out-spoken and well handled, but 
we had still to devise our present scheme of financing 
groups of men to create magazines and newspapers, which 
became their own separate but inalienable property after 
so many years of success. 

But all this I hope you will already have become more 
or less familiar with when this story reaches your hands, 
and I hope by the time it does so we shall be far beyond 
our present stage of experiment and that you will have 
come naturally to play your part in this most fascinating 
business of maintaining an onward intellectual move- 
ment in the world, a movement not simply independent 
of but often running counter to all sorts of political and 
financial interests. I tell you this much here for you to 
understand that already in 1909 and considering the busi- 
ness side of my activities alone, I was a hard worker and 
very strenuously employed. And in addition to all this 
huge network of enterprises I had developed with Gidding, 
I was still pretty actively a student. I wasn't I never 
shall be absolutely satisfied with my general ideas. I 
was enquiring keenly and closely into those problems of 
group and crowd psychology from which all this big 
publishing work has arisen, and giving particular atten- 
tion to the war-panics and outbreaks of international 

283 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

hostility that were then passing in deepening waves across 
Europe. I had already accumulated a mass of notes for 
the book upon " Group Jealousy in Religious Persecution, 
Racial Conflicts and War" which I hope to publish the 
year after next, and which therefore I hope you will have 
read long before this present book can possibly come to 
you. And moreover Rachel and I had established our 
home in London in the house we now occupy during 
the winter and spring and both you and your little sister 
had begun your careers as inhabitants of this earth. 
Your little sister had indeed but just begun. 

And then one morning at the breakfast-table I picked 
a square envelope out of a heap of letters, and saw the 
half -forgotten and infinitely familiar handwriting of Lady 
Mary Justin. . . . The sight of it gave me an odd mixture 
of sensations. I was startled, I was disturbed, I was a 
little afraid. I hadn't forgiven her yet; it needed but this 
touch to tell me how little I had forgotten. . . . 



2 

I sat with it in my hand for a moment or so before I 
opened it, hesitating as one hesitates before a door that 
may reveal a dramatic situation. Then I pushed my 
chair a little back from the table and ripped the en- 
velope. 

It was a far longer letter than Mary had ever written 
me in the old days, and in a handwriting as fine as ever 
but now rather smaller. I have it still, and here I open 
its worn folds and, except for a few trifling omissions, 
copy it out for you. ... A few trifling omissions, I say, 

284 



MARY WRITES 

just one there is that is not trifling, but that I must needs 
make. . . . 

You will never see any of these letters because I shall 
destroy them so soon as this copy is made. It has been 
difficult or I should have destroyed them before. But 
some things can be too hard for us. ... 

This first letter is on the Martens note-paper; its very 
heading was familiar to me. The handwriting of the 
earlier sentences is a little stiff and disjointed, and there 
are one or two scribbled obliterations; it is like someone 
embarrassed in speaking ; and then it passes into her usual 
and characteristic ease. . . . 

And as I read, slowly my long-cherished anger evapo- 
rated, and the real Mary, outspoken and simple, whom I 
had obscured by a cloud of fancied infidelities, returned 
to me. . . . 

"My dear Stephen," she begins, "About six weeks 
ago I saw in the Times that you have a little daughter. 
It set me thinking, picturing you with a mite of a baby 
in your arms what little things they are, Stephen! 
and your old face bent over it, so that presently I went 
to my room and cried. It set me thinking about you so 
that I have at last written you this Better. ... I love to 
think of you with wife and children about you Stephen, 
I heard of your son for the first time about a year ago, 
but don't mistake me, something wrings me too. . . . 

"Well, I too have children. Have you ever thought 
of me as a mother? I am. I wonder how much you 
know about me now. I have two children and the young- 
est is just two years old. And somehow it seems to me 
that now that you and I have both given such earnests 
of our good behavior, such evidence that that side of life 
19 285 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

anyhow is effectually settled for us, there is no reason 
remaining why we shouldn't correspond. You are my 
brother, Stephen, and my friend and my twin and the core 
of my imagination, fifty babies cannot alter that, we can 
live but once and then die, and, promise or no promise, 
I will not be dead any longer in your world when I'm not 
dead, nor will I have you, if I can help it, a cold unanswer- 
ing corpse in mine. . . . 

"Too much of my life and being, Stephen, has been 
buried, and I am in rebellion. This is a breach of the 
tomb if you like, an irregular private premature resur- 
rection from an interment in error. Out of my alleged 
grave I poke my head and say Hello! to you. Stephen, 
old friend! dear friend! how are you getting on? What 
is it like to you?. How do you feel? I want to know 
about you. I'm not doing this at all furtively, and you 
can write back to me, Stephen, as openly as your heart 
desires. I have told Justin I should do this. I rise, you 
see, blowing my own Trump. Let the other graves do 
as they please. . . . 

"Your letters will be respected, Stephen. ... If you- 
choose to rise also and write me a letter. 

"Stephen, I've been wanting to do this for for all 
the time. If there was thought-reading you would have 
had a thousand letters. But formerly I was content to 
submit, and latterly I've chafed more. I think that as 
what they call passion has faded, the immense friend- 
liness has become more evident, and made the bar less 
and less justifiable. You and I have had so much between 
us beyond what somebody the other day it was in a re- 
port in the Times, I think was calling Materia Matri- 
monidla. And of course I hear about you from all sorts 

286 



MARY WRITES 

of people, and in all sorts of ways whatever you have 
done about me I've had a woman's sense of honor about 
you and I've managed to learn a great deal without asking 
forbidden questions. I've pricked up my ears at the 
faintest echo of your name. 

4 'They say you have become a publisher with an 
American partner, a sort of Harmsworth and Nelson 
and Times Book Club and Hooper and Jackson all rolled 
into one. That seems so extraordinary to me that for 
that alone I should have had to write to you. I want to 
know the truth of that. I never see any advertisement of 
Stratton & Co. or get any inkling of what it is you publish. 
Are you the power behind the respectable Murgatroyd 
and the honest Mil vain? I know them both and neither 
has the slightest appearance of being animated by you. 
And equally perplexing is your being mixed up with an 
American like that man Gidding in Peace Conferences 
and Social Reform Congresses and so forth. It's so 
Carnegieish. There I'm surer because I've seen your 
name in reports of meetings and I've read your last two 
papers in the Fortnightly. I can't imagine you of all 
people, with your touch of reserve, launching into move- 
ments and rubbing shoulders with faddists. What does 
it mean, Stephen? I had expected to find you coming 
back into English politics speaking and writing on the 
lines of your old beginning, taking up that work you 
dropped it's six years now ago. I've been accumulating 
disappointment for two years. Mr. Arthur, you see, on 
our side," this you will remember was in 1909 "still 
steers our devious party courses, and the Tariff Reformers 
have still to capture us. Weston Massinghay was com- 
paring them the other night, at a dinner at the dynes', 

287 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

to a crowded piratical galley trying to get alongside a 
good seaman in rough weather. He was very funny about 
Leo Maxse in the poop, white and shrieking with passion 
and the motion, and all the capitalists armed to the teeth 
and hiding snug in the hold until the grappling-irons were 
fixed. . . . Why haven't you come into the game? I'd 
hoped it if only for the sake of meeting you again. What 
are you doing out beyond there? 

"We are in it so far as I can contrive. But I con- 
trive very little. We are pillars of the Conservative 
party on that Justin's mind is firmly settled and every 
now and then I clamor urgently that we must do more 
for it. But Justin's ideas go no further than writing 
cheques doing more for the party means writing a bigger 
cheque and there are moments when I feel we shall 
simply bring down a peerage upon our heads and bury 
my ancient courtesy title under the ignominy of a new 
creation. He would certainly accept it. He writes his 
cheque and turns back at the earliest opportunity to his 
miniature gardens and the odd little freaks of collecting 
that attract him. Have you ever heard of chintz oil 
jars? ' No,' you will say. Nor has anyone else yet except 
our immediate circle of friends and a few dealers who are 
no doubt industriously increasing the present scanty 
supply. We possess three. They are matronly shaped 
jars about two feet or a yard high, of a kind of terra-cotta 
with wooden tops surmounted by gilt acorns, and they 
have been covered with white paint and on this flowers 
and birds and figures from some very rich old chintz 
have been stuck very cunningly, and then everything has 
been varnished and there you are. Our first and best 
was bought for seven-and-sixpence, brought home in the 

288 



MARY WRITES 

car, put upon a console table on the second landing and 
worshipped. It's really a very pleasant mellow thing to 
see. Nobody had ever seen the like. Guests, syco- 
phantic people of all sorts were taken to consider it. 
It was looked at with heads at every angle, one man 
even kept his head erect and one went a little upstairs 
and looked at it under his arm. Also the most powerful 
lenses have been used for a minute examination, and 
one expert licked the varnish and looked extremely 
thoughtful and wise at me as he turned the booty over 
his gifted tongue. And now, God being with us, we 
mean to possess every specimen in existence before 
the Americans get hold of the idea. Yesterday Justin 
got up and motored sixty miles to look at an alleged 
fourth. . . . 

"Oh my dear! I am writing chatter. You perceive 
I've reached the chattering stage. It is the fated end 
of the clever woman in a good social position nowadays, 
her mind beats against her conditions for the last time 
and breaks up into this carping talk, this spume of 
observation and comment, this anecdotal natural history 
of the restraining husband, as waves burst out their 
hearts in a foam* upon a reef. But it isn't chatter I want 
to write to you. 

" Stephen, I'm intolerably wretched. No creature 
has ever been gladder to have been born than I was for 
the first five and twenty years of my life. I was full of 
hope and I was full, I suppose, of vanity and rash con- 
fidence. I thought I was walking on solid earth with 
my head reaching up to the clouds, and that sea and sky 
and all mankind were mine for the smiling. And I am 
nothing and worse than nothing, I am the ineffectual 

289 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

mother of two children, a daughter whom I adore but 
of her I may not tell you and a son, a son who is too 
like his father for any fury of worship, a stolid little crea- 
ture. . . . That is all I have done in the world, a mere 
blink of maternity, and my blue Persian who is scarcely 
two years old, has already had nine kittens. My husband 
and I have never forgiven each other the indefinable 
wrong of not pleasing each other; that embitters more 
and more; to take it out of each other is our r61e; I have 
done my duty to the great new line of Justin by giving 
it the heir it needed, and now a polite and silent separa- 
tion has fallen between us. We hardly speak except in 
company. I have not been so much married, Stephen, 
\ I find, as collected, and since our tragic misadventure 
but there were beautiful moments, Stephen, unforget- 
table glimpses of beauty in that thank God, I say 
impenitently for that the door of the expensively splen- 
did cabinet that contains me, when it is not locked, is 
very discreetly watched. I have no men friends, no 
social force, no freedom to take my line. My husband is 
my official obstacle. \ We barb the limitations of life for 
one another. A little while ago he sought to chasten me 
to rouse me rather through jealousy, and made me aware 
indirectly but a little defiantly of a young person of ar- 
tistic gifts in whose dramatic career he was pretending 
a conspicuous interest. I was jealous and roused, but 
scarcely in the way he desired. 'This,' I said quite 
cheerfully, 'means freedom for me, Justin/ and the 
young woman vanished from the visible universe with 
an incredible celerity. I hope she was properly paid off 
and not simply made away with by a minion, but I be- 
come more and more aware of my ignorance of a great 

290 



MARY WRITES 

financier's methods as I become more and more aware of 
them. . . . 

" Stephen, my dear, my brother, I am intolerably un- 
happy. I do not know what to do with myself, or what 
there is to hope for in life. I am like a prisoner in a magic 
cage and I do not know the word that will release me. 
How is it with you? Are you unhappy beyond measure 
or are you not; and if you are not, what are you doing 
with life? Have you found any secret that makes living 
tolerable and understandable? Write to me, write to me 
at least and tell me that. . . . Please write to me. 

"Do you remember how long ago you and I sat in 
the old Park at Burnmore, and how I kept pestering 
you and asking you what is all this for? And you looked 
at the question as an obstinate mule looks at a narrow 
bridge he could cross but doesn't want to. Well, Stephen, 
you've had nearly how many years is it now? to get 
an answer ready. What is it all for? What do you make 
of it? Never mind my particular case, or the case of 
Women with a capital W, tell me your solution. You are 
active, you keep doing things, you find life worth living. 
Is publishing a way of peace for the heart ? I am prepared 
to believe even that. But justify yourself. Tell me what 
you have got there to keep your soul alive." 



I read this letter to the end and looked up, and there 
was my home about me, a room ruddy-brown and familiar, 
with the row of old pewter things upon the dresser, the 
steel engravings of former Strattons that came to me 

291 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

from my father, a convex mirror exaggerating my upturned 
face. And Rachel just risen again sat at the other end 
of the table, a young mother, fragile and tender-eyed. 
The clash of these two systems of reality was amazing. 
It was as though I had not been parted from Mary for a 
day, as though all that separation and all that cloud of 
bitter jealousy had been a mere silence between two people 
in the same room. Indeed it was extraordinarily like 
that, as if I had been sitting at a desk, imagining myself 
alone, reading my present life as one reads in a book at 
a shaded lamp, and then suddenly that silent other had 
spoken. 

And then I looked at the page of my life before me 
and became again a character in the story. 

I met the enquiry in Rachel's eyes. "It's a letter 
from Mary Justin," I said. 

She did not answer for a few moments. She became 
interested in the flame of the little spirit lamp that kept 
her coffee hot. She finished what she had to do with 
that and then remarked, "I thought you two were not to 
correspond." 

"Yes," I said, putting the letter down; "that was the 
understanding. ' ' 

There was a little interval of silence, and then I got up 
and went to the fireplace where the bacon and sausages 
stood upon a trivet. 

"I suppose," said Rachel, "she wants to hear from you 
again." 

"She thinks that now we have children, and that she 
has two, we can consider what was past, past and closed 
and done with, and she wants to hear about me. . . . 
Apart from everything else we were very great friends," 

292 



MARY WRITES 

"Of course," said Rachel with lips a little awry, "of 
course. You must have been great friends. And it's 
natural for her to write. " 

"I suppose," she added, "her husband knows." 

"She's told him, she says. ..." 

Her eye fell on the letter in my hand for the smallest 
fraction of a second, and it was as if hastily she snatched 
away a thought from my observation. I had a moment 
of illuminating embarrassment. So far we had contrived 
to do as most young people do when they marry, we had 
sought to make our lives unreservedly open to one another, 
we had affected an entire absence of concealments about 
our movements, our thoughts. If perhaps I had been 
largely silent to her about Mary it was not so much 
that I sought to hide things from her as that I myself 
sought to forget. It is one of the things that we learn 
too late, the impossibility of any such rapid and wilful 
coalescences of souls. But we had maintained a conven- 
tion of infinite communism since our marriage; we had 
shown each other our letters as a matter of course, shared 
the secrets of our friends, gone everywhere together as far 
as we possibly could. 

I wanted now to give her the letter in my hand to read 
and to do so was manifestly impossible. Something 
had arisen between us that made out of our unity two 
abruptly separated figures masked and veiled. Here 
were things I knew and understood completely and that 
I could not even describe to Rachel. What would she 
make of Mary's "Write to me. Write to me"? A mere 
wish to resume. ... I would not risk the exposure of Mary's 
mind and heart and unhappiness, to her possible mis- 
interpretation. . . . 

2 93 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

That letter fell indeed like a pitiless searchlight into 
all that region of differences ignored, over which we had 
built the vaulted convention of our complete mutual 
understanding. In my memory it seems to me now as 
though we hung silent for quite a long time over the 
evasions that were there so abruptly revealed. 

Then I put the letter into my pocket with a clumsy 
assumption of carelessness, and knelt down to the fender 
and sausages. 

"It will be curious," I said, "to write to her again. . . . 
To tell her about things. . . ." 

And then with immense interest, "Are these Chichester 
sausages you've got here, Rachel, or some new kind?" 

Rachel roused herself to respond with an equal affecta- 
tion, and we made an eager conversation about bacon and 
sausages for after that startling gleam of divergence we 
were both anxious to get back to the superficialities of 
life again. 

4 

I did not answer Mary's letter for seven or eight 
days. 

During that period my mind was full of her to the 
exclusion of every other interest. I re-read all that she 
had to say many times, and with each reading the effect 
of her personality deepened. It was all so intensely 
familiar, the flashes of insight, the blazing frankness, 
the quick turns of thought, and her absurd confidence 
in a sort of sane stupidity that she had always insisted 
upon my possessing. And her unembarrassed affection- 
ateness. Her quick irregular writing seemed to bring 

294 



MARY WRITES 

back with it the changing light in her eyes, the intonations 
of her voice, something of her gesture. . . . 

I didn't go on discussing with myself whether we two 
ought to correspond; that problem disappeared from my 
thoughts. Her challenge to me to justify myself took 
possession of my mind. That thrust towards self- 
examination was the very essence of her ancient influence. 
How did I justify myself? I was under a peculiar com- 
pulsion to answer that to her satisfaction. She had 
picked me up out of my work and accumulating routines 
with that demand, made me look at myself and my world 
again as a whole. . . . I had a case. I have a case. It is 
a case of passionate faith triumphing over every doubt 
and impossibility, a case real enough to 'understand for 
those who understand, but very difficult to state. I tried 
to convey it to her. 

I do not remember at all clearly what I wrote to her. 
It has disappeared from existence. But it was certainly a 
long letter. Throughout this book I have been trying to 
tell you the growth of my views of life and its purpose, 
from my childish dreams and Harbury attitudes to those 
ideas of human development that have made me under- 
take the work I do. It is not glorious work I know, as 
the work of great artists and poets and leaders is glorious, 
but it is what I find best suits my gifts and my want of 
gifts. Greater men will come at last to build within my 
scaffoldings. In some summary phrasing I must have set 
out the gist of this. I must have explained my sense of 
the supreme importance of mental clarification in human 
life. All this is manifest in her reply. And I think too 
I did my best to tell her plainly the faith that was in me, 
and why life seemed worth while to me. . . . 

295 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

Her second letter came after an interval of only a few 
days from the despatch of mine. She began abruptly. 

"I won't praise your letter or your beliefs. They are 
fine and large and generous like you. Just a little 
artificial (but you will admit that), as though you had 
felt them give here and there and had made up your 
mind they shouldn't. At times it's oddly like looking at 
the Alps, the real Alps, and finding that every now and 
then the mountains have been eked out with a plank 
and canvas Earl's Court background. . . . Yes, I like 
what you say about Faith. I believe you are right. I 
wish I could perhaps some day I shall light up and feel 

you are right. But but That large, respectable 

project, the increase of wisdom and freedom and self- 
knowledge in the world, the calming of wars, the ending of 
economic injustice and so on and so on 

"When I read it first it was like looking at a man in 
profile and finding him solid and satisfactory, and then 
afterwards when I thought it all over and looked for 
the particular things that really matter to me and tried 
to translate it into myself nothing is of the slightest 
importance in the world that one cannot translate into 
oneself then I began to realize just how amazingly 
deficient you are. It was like walking round that person 
in profile and finding his left side wasn't there with 
everything perfect on the right, down to the buttons. A 
kind of intellectual Lorelei sideways. You've planned 
out your understandings and tolerances and enquiries 
and clearings-up as if the world were all just men or 
citizens and nothing doing but racial and national and 
class prejudices and the exacting and shirking of labor, 
and you seem to ignore altogether that man is a sexual 

296 



MARY WRITES 

animal first first, Stephen, first that he has that in 
common with all the animals, that it made him indeed 
because he has it more than they have and after that, 
a long way after that, he is the labor-economizing, war- 
and feud-making creature you make him out to be. A 
long way after that. . . . 

"Man is the most sexual of all the beasts, Stephen. 
Half of him, womankind, rather more than half, isn't 
simply human at all, it's specialized, specialized for the 
young, not only naturally and physically as animals are, 
but mentally and artificially. Womankind isn't human, 
it's reduced human. It's 'the sex' as the Victorians 
used to say, and from the point of view of the Lex Julia 
and the point of view of Mr. Malthus, and the point of 
view of biologists and saints and artists and everyone 
who deals in feeling and emotion and from the point of 
view of all us poor specialists, smothered up in our clothes 
and restrictions the future of the sex is the centre of 
the whole problem of the human future, about which you 
are concerned. All this great world-state of your man's 
imagination is going to be wrecked by us if you ignore us, 
we women are going to be the Goths and Huns of another 
Decline and Fall. We are going to sit in the conspicuous 
places of the world and loot all your patient accumulations. 
We are going to abolish your offspring and turn the princes 
among you into undignified slaves. Because, you see, 
specialized as we are, we are not quite specialized, we are 
specialized under duress, and at the first glimpse of a 
chance we abandon our cradles and drop our pots and 
pans and go for the vast and elegant side possibilities 
of our specialization. Out we come, looking for the fun 
the men are having. Dress us, feed us, play with us! 

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THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

We'll pay you in excitement, tremendous excitement. 
The State indeed! All your little triumphs of science and 
economy, all your little accumulations of wealth that 
you think will presently make the struggle for life an 
old story and the millennium possible we spend. And 
all your dreams of brotherhood! we will set you by 
the ears. We hold ourselves up as my little Christian 
nephews Philip's boys do some coveted object, and 
say Quisf and the whole brotherhood shouts 'Ego! 9 
to the challenge. . . . Back you go into Individualism 
at the word and all your Brotherhood crumbles to dust 
again. 

"How are you going to remedy it, how are you going 
to protect that Great State of your dreams from this 
anti-citizenship of sex? You give no hint. 

"You are planning nothing, Stephen, nothing to meet 
this. You are fighting with an army all looting and 
undisciplined, frantic with the private jealousies that 
centre about us, feuds, cuts, expulsions, revenges, and 
you are giving out orders for an army of saints. You 
treat us as a negligible quantity, and we are about as 
negligible as a fire in the woodwork of a house that is 
being built. . . . 

"I read what I have written, Stephen, and I perceive 
I have the makings of a fine scold in me. Perhaps 

under happier conditions ... I should certainly have 

scolded you, constantly, continually. . . . Never did a 
man so need scolding. . . . And like any self-respecting 
woman I see that I use half my words in the wrong 
meanings in order to emphasize my point. Of course 
when I write woman in all that has gone before I don't 
mean woman. It is a woman's privilege to talk or write 

298 



MARY WRITES 

incomprehensibly and insist upon being understood. So 
that I expect you already to understand that what I mean 
isn't that men are creative and unselfish and brotherly and 
so forth and that women are spoiling and going to spoil 
the game although and notwithstanding that is exactly 
what I have written but that humans are creative and 
unselfish et cetera and so forth, and that it is their sexual, 
egotistical, passionate side (which is ever so much bigger 
relatively in a woman than in a man, and that is why I 
wrote as I did) which is going to upset your noble and 
beautiful apple-cart. '"But it is not only that by nature we ^ 
are more largely and gravely and importantly sexual than 
men but that men have shifted the responsibility for at- j 
traction and passion upon us and made us pay in servitude / 
and restriction and blame for the common defect of the j 
species.j So that you see really I was right all along in 
writing of this as though it was women when it wasn't, 
and I hope now it is unnecessary for me to make my 
meaning clearer than it is now and always has been in this 
matter. And so, resuming our discourse, Stephen, which 
only my sense of your invincible literalness would ever have 
interrupted, what are you going to do with us? 

" I gather from a hint rather than accept as a statement 
that you propose to give us votes. 

" Stephen! do you really think that we are going to 
bring anything to bear upon public affairs worth having? 
I know something of the contemporary feminine intelli- 
gence. Justin makes no serious objection to a large and 
various circle of women friends, and over my little sitting- 
room fire in the winter and in my corners of our various 
gardens in the summer and in walks over the heather at 
Martens and in Scotland there are great talks and confes- 

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THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

sions of love, of mental freedom, of ambitions, and belief 
and unbelief more particularly of unbelief. I have 
sometimes thought of compiling a dictionary of unbelief, 
a great list of the things that a number of sweet, sub- 
missive, value-above-rubies wives have told me they did 
not believe in. It would amaze their husbands beyond 
measure. The state of mind of women about these things, 
Stephen, is dreadful I mean about all these questions 
you know what I mean. The bold striving spirits do air 
their views a little, and always in a way that makes one 
realize how badly they need airing but most of the 
nicer women are very chary of talk, they have to be drawn 
out, a hint of opposition makes them start back or prevar- 
icate, and I see them afterwards with their husbands, 
pretty silken furry feathery jewelled silences. All their 
suppression doesn't keep them orthodox, it only makes 
them furtive and crumpled and creased in their minds 
in just the way that things get crumpled and creased if 
they are always being shoved back into a drawer. You 
have only to rout about in their minds for a bit. They 
pretend at first to be quite correct, and then out comes the 
nasty little courage of the darkness. Sometimes there is 
even an apologetic titter. They are quite emancipated, 
they say; I have misunderstood them. Their emanci- 
pation is like those horrid white lizards that grow in the 
Kentucky caves out of the sunlight. They tell you they 
don't see why they shouldn't do this or that mean things, 
underhand things, cheap, vicious, sensual things. . . . 
Are there, I wonder, the same dreadful little caverns in 
men? I doubt it. And then comes a situation that 
really tries their quality. . . . Think of the quandary I 
got into with you, Stephen. And for my sex I'm rather a 

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MARY WRITES 

daring person. The way in which I went so far and 
then ran away. I had a kind of excuse in my illness. 
That illness ! Such a queer untimely feminine illness. 

"We're all to pieces, Stephen. That's what brought 
down Rome. The women went to pieces then, and the 
women are going to pieces to-day. What's the good of 
having your legions in the Grampians and marching up 
to Philae, while the wives are talking treason in your 
houses? It's no good telling us to go back to the Ancient 
Virtues. The Ancient Virtues haven't kept. The An- 
cient Virtues in an advanced state of decay is what was the 
matter with Rome and what is the matter with us. You 
can't tell a woman to go back to the spinning-wheel and 
the kitchen and the cradle, when you have power-looms, 
French cooks, hotels, restaurants and modern nurseries. 
We've overflowed. We've got to go on to a lot of New 
Virtues. And in all the prospect before me I can't 
descry one clear simple thing to do. . . . 

"But I'm running on. I want to know, Stephen, 
why you've got nothing to say about all this. It must 
have been staring you in the face ever since I spent my 
very considerable superfluous energies in wrecking your 
career. Because you know I wrecked it, Stephen. I 
knew I was wrecking it and I wrecked it. I knew exactly 
what I was doing all the time. I had meant to be so fine 
a thing for you, a mothering friend, to have that dear 
consecutive kindly mind of yours steadying mine, to have 
seen you grow to power overmen, me helping, me admir- 
ing. It was to have been so fine. So fine ! Didn't I urge 
you to marry Rachel, make you talk of her. Don't you 
remember that? And one day when I saw you thinking 
of Rachel, saw a 'kind of pride in your eyes! suddenly I 
20 301 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

couldn't stand it. I went to my room after you had gone 
and thought of you and her until I wanted to scream. I 
couldn't bear it. It was intolerable. I was violent to 
my toilet things. I broke a hand-glass. Your dignified, 
selfish, self -controlled Mary smashed a silver hand-mirror. 
I never told you that. You know what followed. I 
pounced on you and took you. Wasn't I a soft and 
scented hawk? Was either of us better than some 
creature of instinct that does what it does because it must ? 
It was like a gust of madness and I cared, I found, no 
more for your career than I cared for any other little 
thing, for honor, for Rachel, for Justin, that stood be- 
tween us. ... 

"My dear, wasn't all that time, all that heat and 
hunger of desire, all that secret futility of passion, the 
very essence of the situation between men and women 
now? We are all trying most desperately to be human 
beings, to walk erect, to work together what was your 
phrase? 'in a multitudinous unity,' to share what you 
call a common collective thought that shall rule man- 
kind, and this tremendous force which seizes us and says 
to us: 'Make that other being yours, bodily yours, men- 
tally yours, wholly yours at any price, no matter the 
price, ' bars all our unifications. It splits the whole world 
into couples watching each other. Until all our laws, all 
our customs seem the servants of that. It is the passion 
of the body swamping the brain; it's an ape that has 
seized a gun, a beautiful modern gun. Here am I, Jus- 
tin's captive, and he mine, he mine because at the first 
escapade of his I get my liberty. Here are we two, I and 
you, barred for ever from the sight of one another, and I 
and you writing I at any rate in spite of the ill-con- 

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MARY WRITES 

cealed resentment of my partner. We're just two, 
peeping through our bars, of a universal multitude. 
Everywhere this prison of sex. Have you ever thought 
just all that it means when every woman in the world goes 
dressed in a costume to indicate her sex, her cardinal 
fact, so that she dare not even mount a bicycle in knicker- 
bockers, she has her hair grown long to its longest because 
yours is short, and everything conceivable is done to 
emphasize and remind us (and you) of the fundamental 
trouble between us? As if there was need of reminding! 
Stephen, is there no way out of this? Is there no way at 
all? Because if there is not, then I had rather go back to 
the hareem than live as I do now imprisoned in glass 
with all of life in sight of me and none in reach. I had 
rather Justin beat me into submission and mental tran- 
quillity and that I bore him an annual probably decidu- 
ous child. I can understand so well now that feminine 
attitude that implies, 'Well, if I must have a master, then 
the more master the better.' Perhaps that is the way; 
that Nature will not let us poor humans get away from 
sex, and I am merely what is it? an abnormality 
with whiskers of enquiry sprouting from my mind. Yet 
I don't feel like that. . . . 

"I'm pouring into these letters, Stephen, the concen- 
trated venom of years of brooding. My heart is black 
with rebellion against my lot and against the lot of woman. 
I have been given life and a fine position in the world, 
made one fatal blunder in marrying to make these 
things secure, and now I can do nothing with it all and I 
have nothing to do with it. It astounds me to think of the 
size of our establishments, Stephen, of the extravagant 
way in which whole counties and great countries pay 

303 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tribute to pile up the gigantic heap of wealth upon which 
we two lead our lives of futile entanglement. In this 
place alone there are fourteen gardeners and garden helps, 
and this is not one of our garden places. Three weeks 
ago I spent a thousand pounds on clothes in one great 
week of shopping, and our yearly expenditure upon per- 
sonal effect, upon our magnificence and our margins can- 
not be greatly less than forty-five thousand pounds. I 
walk about our house and gardens, I take one of the car- 
riages or one of the automobiles and go to some large 
pointless gathering of hundreds and thousands and thou- 
sands of pounds, and we walk about and say empty little 
things, and the servants don't laugh at us, the butlers 
don't laugh at us, the people in the street tolerate us. . . . 
It has an effect of collective insanity. . . . You know the 
story of one of those dear Barons of the Cinque Ports a 
decent plumber-body from Rye or Winchelsea one of the 
six or eight who claimed the privilege of carrying the 
canopy over the King" she is speaking of King Ed- 
ward's coronation of course "how that he was discovered 
suddenly to be speaking quite audibly to the sacred pres- 
ence so near to him: 'It is very remarkable we should 
be here, your majesty very remarkable.' And then he 
subsided happily unheard into hopeless embarrass- 
ment. That is exactly how I feel, Stephen. I feel I 
can't stand it much longer, that presently I shall splutter 
and spoil the procession. . . . 

" Perhaps I don't properly estimate our position in- 
the fabric, but I can't get away from the feeling that 
everything in social life leads up to this to us, the 
ridiculous canopy. If so, then the universe means 
nothing; it's blowing great forms and shapes as a swamp 

34 



MARY WRITES 

blows bubbles; a little while ago it was megatheriums and 
plesiosauriums if that's the name for them and now 
it is country-houses and motor-cars and coronation fes- 
tivals. And in the end it is all nonsense, Stephen. It 
is utter nonsense. 

"If it isn't nonsense, tell me what it is. For me at 
any rate it's nonsense, and for every intelligent woman 
about me for I talk to some of them, we indulge in 
seditious whisperings and wit and there isn't one who 
seems to have been able to get to anything solider than 
I have done. Each of us has had her little fling at ma- 
ternity about as much as a washerwoman does in her 
odd time every two or three years and that is our ut- 
termost reality. All the rest, trimmings! We go about 
the world, Stephen, dressing and meeting each other 
with immense ceremony, we have our seasonal move- 
ments in relation to the ritual of politics and sport, we 
travel south for the Budget and north for the grouse, we 
play games to amuse the men who keep us not a woman 
would play a game for its own sake we dabble with social 
reform and politics, for which few of us care a rap except 
as an occupation, we * discover' artists or musicians or 
lecturers (as though we cared), we try to believe in 
lovers or, still harder, try to believe in old or new religions, 
and most of us I don't do our best to give the gratifica- / 
tions:*and exercise the fascinations that are expected of/ 
us. ... H 

" Something has to be done for women, Stephen. We 
are the heart of life, birth and begetting, the home where 
the future grows, and your schemes ignore us and slide 
about over the superficialities of things. We are spoiling 
the whole process of progress, we are turning all the achieve- 

305 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

ments of mankind to nothingness. Men invent, create, 
do miracles with the world, and we translate it all into 
shopping, into a glitter of dresses and households, into an 
immense parade of pride and excitement. We excite 
men, we stir them to get us and keep us. Men turn from 
their ideas of brotherhood to elaborate our separate 
cages. . . . 

"I am Justin's wife; not a thing in my heavens or 
my earth that is not subordinated to that. 

"Something has to be done for women, Stephen, 
something urgently and nothing is done until that 
is done, some release from their intolerable subjection 
to sex, so that for us everything else in life, respect, 
freedom, social standing, is entirely secondary to that. 
But what has to be done? We women do not know. 
Our efforts to know are among the most desolating of 
spectacles. I read the papers of those suffrage women; 
the effect is more like agitated geese upon a common 
than anything human has a right to be. ... That's why 
I turn to you. Years ago I felt, and now I know, there 
is about you a simplicity of mind, a foolishness of faith, 
that is stronger and greater than the cleverness of any 
woman alive. You are one of those strange men who take 
high and sweeping views as larks soar. It isn't that you 
yourself are high and sweeping. . . . No, but still I turn 
to you. In the old days I used to turn to you and shake 
your mind and make you think about things you seemed 
too sluggish to think about without my clamor. Once 
do you remember at Martens I shook you by the ears. . . . 
And when I made you think, you thought, as I could never 
do. Think now about women. 

"Stephen, there are moments when it seems to me that 
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MARY WRITES 

this futility of women, this futility of men's effort through\ 
women, is a fated futility in the very nature of things.! 
We may be saddled with it as we are with all the animal 
infirmities we have, with appendixes and suchlike things 
inside of us, and the passions and rages of apes and a tail 
I believe we have a tail curled away somewhere, haven't 
we? Perhaps mankind is so constituted that badly as 
they get along now they couldn't get along at all if they 
let women go free and have their own way with life. Per- 
haps you can't have two sexes loose together, You must 
shut up one. I've a horrible suspicion that all these anti- 
suffrage men like Lord Cromer and Sir Ray Lankester 
must know a lot about life that I do not know. And that 
other man Sir Something-or-other Wright, who said plain- 
ly that men cannot work side by side with women because 
they get excited. . . . And yet, you know, women have had 
glimpses of a freedom that was not mischievous. I 
could have been happy as a Lady Abbess I must have 
space and dignity, Stephen and those women had things 
in their hands as no women have things in their hands to- 
day. They came to the House of Lords. But they lost 
all that. Was there some sort of natural selection? . . . 
" Stephen, you were made to answer my mind, and 
if you cannot do it nobody can. What is your outlook 
for women? Are we to go back to seclusion or will it be 
possible to minimize sex? If you are going to minimize 
sex how are you going to do it? Suppression? There is 
plenty of suppression now. Increase or diminish the pains 
and penalties? My nephew, Philip's boy, Philip Chris- 
tian, was explaining to me the other day that if you boil 
water in an open bowl it just boils away, and that if you 
boil it in a corked bottle it bangs everything to pieces, and 

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THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

you have, he says, 'to look out/ But I feel that's a bad 
image. Boiling-water isn't frantically jealous, and men 
and women, are. But still suppose, suppose you trained 
people not to make such an awful fuss about things. 
Now you train them to make as much fuss as possible. . . . 
"Oh bother it all, Stephen! Where's your mind in 
these matters? Why haven't you tackled these things? 
Why do you leave it to me to dig these questions into you 
like opening a reluctant oyster? Aren't they patent? 
You up and answer them, Stephen or this correspon- 
dence will become abusive. . . ." 



5 

It was true that I did ignore or minimize sexual ques- 
tions as much as I could. I was forced now to think why 
I did this. That carried me back to those old days of 
passion, memories I had never stirred for many years. 
And I wrote to Mary that there was indeed no reason 
but a reasonable fear, that in fact I had dismissed them 
because they had been beyond my patience and self-con- 
trol, because I could not think very much about them 
without an egotistical reversion to the bitterness of my own 
case. And in avoiding them I was only doing what the 
great bulk of men in business and men in affairs find them- 
selves obliged to do. They train themselves not to think 
of the rights and wrongs of sexual life, not to tolerate liber- 
ties even in their private imaginations. They know it 
is like carrying a torch into a powder magazine. They 
feel they cannot trust their own minds beyond the ex- 
perience, tested usages, and conventions of the ages, 

308 



MARY WRITES 

because they know how many of those who have ven- 
tured further have been blinded by mists and clouds of 
rhetoric, lost in inexplicable puzzles and wrecked dis- 
astrously. There in those half explored and altogether 
unsettled hinterlands, lurk desires that sting like adders 
and hatreds cruel as hell. . . . 

And then I went on I do not clearly remember now the 
exact line of argument I adopted to urge upon her that 
our insoluble puzzles were not necessarily insoluble 
puzzles for the world at large, that no one soldier fights 
anything but a partial battle, and that it wasn't an ab- 
solute condemnation of me to declare that I went on 
living and working for social construction with the car- 
dinal riddles of social order, so far as they affected her, 
unsolved. Wasn't I at any rate preparing apparatus 
for that huge effort at solution that mankind must ul- 
timately make? Wasn't this dredging out and deepening 
of the channels of thought about the best that we could 
hope to do at the present time, seeing that to launch a 
keel of speculation prematurely was only to strand one- 
self among hopeless reefs and confusions? Better prepare i 
for a voyage to-morrow than sail to destruction to-day. [ 

Whatever I put in that forgotten part of my letter was 
put less strikingly than my first admissions, and anyhow 
it was upon these that Mary pounced to the disregard 
of any other point. "There you are," she wrote, with 
something like elation, " there is a tiger in the garden and 
you won't talk or think about it for fear of growing excited. 
That is my grievance against so much historical and 
political and social discussion; its hopeless futility because 
of its hopeless omissions. You plan the world's future, 
taking the women and children for granted, with Egotis- 

39 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

tical Sex, as you call it, a prowling monster upsetting 
everything you do. . . ." 

But I will not give you that particular letter in its 
order, nor its successors. Altogether she wrote me 
twenty-two letters, and I one or two more than that num- 
ber to her, and a thing almost inevitable in a discussion 
by correspondence there is a lot of overlapping and re- 
capitulation. Those letters spread over a space of nearly 
two and a half years. Again and again she insists upon 
the monstrous exaggeration of the importance of sex in 
human life and of the need of some reduction of its im- 
portance, and she makes the boldest experimental sug- 
gestions for the achievement of that end. But she comes 
slowly to recognize that there is a justification for an in- 
direct attack, that sex and the position of women do not 
constitute the primary problem in that bristling system of 
riddles that lies like a hostile army across the path of man- 
kind. And she realized too that through art, through 
science and literature and the whole enquiring and crea- 
tive side of man's nature, lies the path by which those 
positions are to be outflanked, and those eternal-looking 
impossibles and inconceivables overcome. Here is a 
fragment saturated with the essence of her thought. 
Three-quarters of her earlier letters are variations on this 
theme. . . . 

"What you call 'social order/ Stephen, all the arrange- 
ments seem to me to be built on subjection to sex even 
more than they are built (as you say) on labor subjection. 
And this is an age of release, you say it is an age of release 
for the workers and they know it. And so do the women. 
Just as much. ' Wild hopes ' indeed ! The workers' hopes 
are nothing to the women's! It is not only the workers 

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MARY WRITES 

who are saying let us go free, manage things differently 
so that we may have our lives relieved from this intoler- 
able burthen of constant toil, but the women also are say- 
ing let us go free. They are demanding release just as 
much from their intolerable endless specialization as 
females. The tramp on the roads who won't work, the 
swindler and the exploiter who contrive not to work, 
the strikers who throw down their tools, no longer for two- 
pences and sixpences as you say but because their way 
of living is no longer tolerable to them, and we women, 
who don't bear children or work or help; we are all in 
one movement together. We are part of the General 
Strike. I have been a striker all my life. We are doing 
nothing by the hundred thousand. Your old social 
machine is working without us and in spite of us, it 
carries us along with it and we are sand in the bearings. 
I'm not a wheel, Stephen, I'm grit. What you say about 
the reactionaries and suppressionists who would stifle 
the complaints of labor and crush out its struggles to be 
free, is exactly true about the reactionaries and suppres- 
sionists who would stifle the discussion of the woman's 
position and crush out her hopes of emancipation. ..." 

And here is a page of the peculiar doubt that was as 
characteristic of her as the quick changes of her eyes. 
It gives just that pessimistic touch that tempered her 
valiant adventurousness, that gave a color at last to the 
tragedy of her death. . . . 

"Have you ever thought, Stephen, that perhaps these^ 
(repressionist) people are lighter than you are that if 
the worker gets free he won't work and that if the woman 
gets free she won't furl her sex and stop disturbing things? 
Suppose she is wicked as a sex, suppose she will trade on 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

\ her power of exciting imaginative men. A lot of these new 
women run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, 
beguile some poor innocent of a man to ruin them and 
then call in fathers, brother, husbands, friends, chivalry, 
all the rest of it, and make the best of both sides of a sex. 
Suppose we go on behaving like that. After we've got 
all our emancipations. Suppose that the liberation of 
common people simply means loafing, no discipline, noth- 
ing being done, an end to labor and the beginning of 
nothing to replace it, and that the liberation of women 
simply means the elaboration of mischief. Suppose that 
it is so. Suppose you are just tumbling the contents of 
the grate into the middle of the room. Then all this 
emancipation is a decay, even as conservative-minded 
people say, it's none the less a decay because we want it, 
and the only thing to stop it is to stop it, and to have 
more discipline and more suppression and say to women 
and the common people: 'Back to the Sterner Virtues; 
Back to Servitude 1 / I wish I hadn't these reactionary 
streaks in.my thoughts, but I have and there you are. . . ." 
And then towards the second year her letters began 
to break away from her preoccupation with her position 
as a woman and to take up new aspects of life, more 
general aspects of life altogether. It had an effect not 
of her having exhausted the subject but as if, despairing 
of a direct solution, she turned deliberately to the relief of 
other considerations. She ceased to question her own 
life, and taking that for granted, wrote more largely 
of less tangible things. She remembered that she had 
said that life, if it was no more than its present appear- 
ances, was "utter nonsense." She went back to that. 
"One says things like that," she wrote "and not for a 

312 



MARY WRITES 

moment does one believe it. I grumble at my life, I 
seem to be always weakly and fruitlessly fighting my 
life, and I love it. I would not be willingly dead for 
anything. I'd rather be an old match -woman selling 
matches on a freezing night in the streets than be dead. 
Nothing nonsensical ever held me so tightly or kept me 
so interested. I suppose really I am full of that very 
same formless faith on which you rely. But with me 
it's not only shapeless but intangible. ... I nibble at 
religion. I am immensely attracted. I stand in the 
doorway. Only when they come out to persuade me to 
come in I am like a shy child and I go away. The temples 
beguile me and the music, but not the men. I feel I 
want to join it and they say 'join us.' They are like 
vergers. Such small things! Such dreadful little argu- 
ing men! They don't let you come in, they want you to 
say they are right. All the really religious people seem to 
be outside nowadays and all the pretending, cheating, 
atheistical, vain and limited people within. . . . 

"But the beautiful things religion gives! The beauty! 
Do you know Saint Paul's, Stephen? Latterly I have 
been there time after time. It is the most beautiful 
interior in all the world, so great, so sombrely dignified, 
so perfectly balanced and filled with such wonderful 
music, brimming with music just as crystal water brims 
in a bowl of crystal. The other day I went there, up into 
a little gallery high up under the dome, to hear Bach's 
Passion Music, the St. Matthew Passion. One hangs 
high and far above the little multitudes below, the white- 
robed singers, the white-robed musicians, ranks and ranks, 
the great organ, the rows and rows and rows of congrega- 
tion, receding this way, that way, into the haze of the aisle 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

and the transepts, and out of it all streams the sound and 
the singing, it pours up past you like a river, a river that 
rushes upward to some great sea, some unknown sea. 
The whole place is music and singing. ... I hang on to 
the railings, Stephen, and weep I have to weep and I 
wonder and wonder. . . . 

"One prays then as naturally as one drinks when 
one is thirsty and cold water comes to hand. I don't 
know whom I pray to, but I pray; of course I pray. 
Latterly, Stephen, I have been reading devotional works 
and trying to catch that music again. I never do 
definitely. Never. But at times I put down the book and 
it seems to me that surely a moment ago I heard it, that 
if I sit very still in a moment I shall hear it again. And 
I can feel it is there, I know it is there, like a bat's cry, 
pitched too high for my ears. I know it is there, just 
as I should still know there was poetry somewhere if some 
poor toothless idiot with no roof to his mouth and no 
knowledge of any but the commonest words tried to read 
Shelley to me. . . . 

"I wish I could pray with you, Stephen; I wish I 
could kneel down somewhere with you of all people and 
pray." 

6 

Presently our correspondence fell away. The gaps 
between our letters lengthened out. We never wrote 
regularly because for that there must be a free exchange 
upon daily happenings, and neither of us cared to dwell 
too closely on our immediate lives. We had a regard for 
one another that left our backgrounds vague and shadowy. 

3U 



MARY WRITES 

She had made her appeal across the sundering silences to 
me and I had answered, and we had poured out certain 
things from our minds. We could not go on discussing. 
I was a very busy man now, and she did not write except 
on my replies. 

For a gap of nearly four months neither of us had 
anything to say in a letter at all. I think that in time 
our correspondence might have altogether died away. 
Then she wrote again in a more familiar strain to tell 
me of certain definite changes of relationship and out- 
look. She said that the estrangement between herself 
and Justin had increased during the past year; that 
they were going to live practically apart; she for the 
most part in the Surrey house where her two children 
lived with their governesses and maids. But also she 
meant to snatch weeks and seasons for travel. Upon 
that they had been disputing for some time. "I know 
it is well with the children," she wrote; "why should I 
be in perpetual attendance ? I do nothing for them except 
an occasional kiss, or half-an-hour's romping. Why 
should one pretend? Justin and I have wrangled over 
this question of going away, for weeks, but at last feminine 
persistence has won. I am going to travel in my own 
fashion and see the world. With periodic appearances 
at his side in London and Scotland. We have agreed at 
least on one thing, and that is upon a companion; she is 
to be my secretary in title, my moral guarantor in fact, 
and her name which is her crowning glory is Stella Sum- 
mersley Satchel. She is blonde, erect, huffy-mannered 
and thoroughly up to both sides of her work. I partly 
envy her independence and rectitude partly only. It's 
odd and quite inconsistent of me that I don't envy her 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

altogether. In theory I insist that a woman should not 
have charm, it is our undoing. But when I meet one 

without it ! 

" I shall also trail a maid, but I guess that young woman 
will learn what it is to be left behind in half the cities of 
Europe before I have done with her. I always lose my 
maids. They are so much more passive and forgettable 
than luggage abroad that is. And Justin usually in the 
old days used to remember about them.. And his valet 
used to see after them, ^a most attentive man. Justin 
cannot, he says, have his wife abroad with merely a com- 
panion; people would talk; maid it must be as well. 
And so in a week or less I shall start, unusually tailor- 
made, for South Germany and all that jolly country, 
companioned and maided. I shall tramp on the feet 
God has given me in stout boots. Miss Sunimersley 
Satchel marches, I understand, like the British infantry 
but on a vegetarian 'basis,' fancy calling your nourish- 
ment a ' basis ' ! the maid and so forth by Eilgut. ..." 



7 

After the letter containing that announcement she 
wrote to me twice again, once from Oban and then after 
a long interval from Siena. The former was a scornfully 
minute description of the English at their holidays and 
how the conversation went among the women after dinner. 
"They are like a row of Japanese lanterns, all blown out 
long ago and swinging about in a wind," she wrote an 
extravagant image that yet conveys something of the 
large, empty, unilluminating effect of a sort of social 

316 



MARY WRITES 

intercourse very vividly. In the second letter she was 
concerned chiefly with the natural beauty of Italy and 
how latterly she had thrice wept at beautiful things, and 
what this mystery of beauty could be that had such power 
over her emotions. 

"All up the hillside before the window as I write the 
herbage is thick with anemones. They aren't scattered 
evenly and anyhow amongst the other things but in little 
clusters and groups that die away and begin again, like 
the repetitions of an air in some musical composition. 
I have been sitting and looking at them for the better 
part of an hour, loving them more and then more, and 

the sweet sunlight that is on them and in among them 

How marvellous are these things, Stephen! All these 
little exquisite things that are so abundant in the world, 
the gleaming lights and blossoms, the drifting scents! 
At times these things bring me to weeping. ... I can't 
help it. It is as if God who is so stern and high, so terrible 
to all our appeals, took pity for a moment and saw fit to 
speak very softly and tenderly. . . ." 

That was the last letter I was ever to have from her. 

21 



CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH 
THE LAST MEETING 



IN the summer of 1911 immediately after the coronation 
of King George there came one of those storms of 
international suspicion that ever and again threaten 
Europe with war. It seems to have been brewed by some 
German adepts at Welt-Politik, those privileged makers 
of giant bombs who sit at the ears of foreign ministers 
suggesting idiotic wickedness, and it was brewed with a 
sublime ignorance of nearly every reality in the case. 
A German warship without a word of notice seized Agadir 
on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, within the regions re- 
served to French influence; an English demand for 
explanations was uncivilly disregarded and England and 
France and presently Germany began vigorous prepara- 
tions for war. All 'over the world it was supposed that 
Germany had at last flung down the gauntlet. In 
England the war party was only too eager to grasp what 
it considered to be a magnificent opportunity. Heaven 
knows what the Germans had hoped or intended by their 
remarkable coup; the amazing thing to note is that they? 
were not prepared to fight, they had not even the neces- 
sary money ready and they could not get it ; they had per- 



THE LAST MEETING 

haps never intended to fight, and the autumn saw the 
danger disperse again into diplomatic bickerings and 
insincerely pacific professions. But in the high summer 
the danger had not dispersed, and in common with every 
reasonable man I found myself under the shadow of an 
impending catastrophe that would have been none the 
less gigantic and tragic because it was an imbecility. It 
was an occasion when everyone needs must act, however 
trivially disproportionate his action may be to the danger. 
I cabled Gidding who was in America to get together what- 
ever influences were available there upon the side of 
pacific intervention, and I set such British organs as I 
could control or approach in the same direction. It 
seemed probable that Italy would be drawn, into any 
conflict that might ensue; it happened that there was to 
be a Conference of Peace Societies in Milan early in 
September, and thither I decided to go in the not very 
certain hope that out of that assemblage some form of 
European protest might be evolved. 

That August I was very much run down. I had been 
staying in London through almost intolerably hot weather 
to attend a Races Congress that had greatly disappointed 
me. I don't know particularly now why I had been dis- 
appointed nor how far the feeling was due to my being 
generally run down by the pressure of detailed work and 
the stress of thinking about large subjects in little scraps 
of time. But I know that a kind of despair came over 
me as I sat and looked at that multicolored assembly 
and heard in succession the heavy platitudes of white 
men, the slick, thin cleverness of Hindoos, the rich-toned 
florid rhetoric of negroes. I lost sight of any germ of 
splendid possibility in all those people, and saw all too 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

plainly the vanity, the jealousy, the self-interests that show 
up so harshly against the professions of every altruistic 
movement. It seemed all such a windy business against 
the firm prejudices, the vast accumulated interests that 
grind race against race. We had no common purpose at 
all at that conference, no proposal to hold us together. 
So much of it was like bleating on a hillside. . . . 

I wanted a holiday badly, and then came this war 
crisis and I felt unable to go away for any length of time. 
Even bleating it seemed to me was better than acquies- 
cence in a crime against humanity. So to get heart to 
bleat at Milan I snatched at ten days in the Swiss moun- 
tains en route. A tour with some taciturn guide involving 
a few middling climbs and glacier excursions seemed the 
best way of recuperating. I had never had any time for 
Switzerland since my first exile there years ago. I took 
the advice of a man in the club whose name I now forget 
if ever I knew it, a dark man with a scar and went up 
to the Schwarzegg Hut above Grindelwald, and over the 
Strahlegg to the Grimsel. I had never been up into the 
central mass of the Bernese Oberland before, and I was 
amazed and extraordinarily delighted by the vast lonely 
beauty of those interminable uplands of ice. I wished I 
could have lingered up there. But that is the tragedy of 
those sunlit desolations; one may not stay; one sees and 
exclaims and then looks at a watch. I wonder no one has 
ever taken an arctic equipment up into that wilderness, 
and had a good healing spell of lonely exaltation. I found 
the descent from the Strahlegg as much of a climb as I was 
disposed to undertake; for an hour we were coming down 
frozen snow that wasn't so much a slope as a slightly 
inclined precipice. . . . 

320 



THE LAST MEETING 

From the Grimsel I went over the Rhone glacier to 
the inn on the Furka Pass, and then, paying off my guide 
and becoming frankly a pedestrian, I made my way round 
by the Schollenen gorge to Goeschenen, and over the Susten 
Joch to the Susten Pass and Stein, meaning to descend to 
Meiringen. 

But I still had four days before I went on to Italy, and 
so I decided to take one more mountain. I slept at the 
Stein inn, and started in the morning to do that agree- 
able first mountain of all, the Titlis, whose shining genial 
head attracted me. I did not think a guide necessary, 
but a boy took me up by a track near Gadmen, and left 
me to my Siegfried map some way up the great ridge of 
rocks that overlooks the Engstlen Alp. I a little over- 
estimated my mountaineering, and it came about that I 
was benighted while I was still high above the Joch Pass 
on my descent. Some of this was steep and needed cau- 
tion. I had to come down slowly with my folding lantern, 
in which a reluctant candle went out at regular intervals, 
and I did not reach the little inn at Engstlen Alp until 
long after eleven at night. By that time I was very 
tired and hungry. 

They told me I was lucky to get a room, only one stood 
vacant; I should certainly not have enjoyed sleeping on a 
billiard table after my day's work, and I ate a hearty 
supper, smoked for a time, meditated emptily, and went 
wearily to bed. 

But I could not sleep. Usually, I am a good sleeper, 
but ever and again when I have been working too closely 
or over-exerting myself I have spells of wakefulness, and 
that night after perhaps an hour's heavy slumber I be- 
came thinly alert and very weary in body' and spirit, and 

321 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

I do not think I slept again. The pain in my leg that the 
panther had torn had been revived by the day's exertion. 
For the greater part of my life insomnia has not been dis- 
agreeable to me. In the night, in the stillness, one has a 
kind of detachment from reality, one floats there without 
light, without weight, feeling very little of one's body. 
One has a certain disembodiment and one can achieve 
a magnanimity of thought, forgiveness and self-forget- 
\fulness that are impossible while the body clamors upon 
pne's senses. But that night, because, I suppose, I was 
so profoundly fatigued, I was melancholy and despondent. 
I could feel again the weight of the great beast upon me 
as he clawed me down and I clung desperately, in that 
interminable instant before he lost his hold. . . . 

Yes, I was extraordinarily wretched that night. I was 
filled with self-contempt and self -disgust. I felt that I 
was utterly weak and vain, and all the pretensions and 
effort of my life mere florid, fruitless pretensions and noth- 
ing more. I had lost all control over my mind. Things 
that had seemed secondary before became primary, 
difficult things became impossible things. I had been 
greatly impeded and irritated in London by the manoeuvres 
of a number of people who were anxious to make capital 
out of the crisis, self -advertising people who wanted at any 
cost to be lifted into a position of unique protest. . . . 
You see, that unfortunate Nobel prize has turned the 
advocacy of peace into a highly speculative profession; 
the qualification for the winner is so vaguely defined that 
a vast multitude of voluntary idealists has been created 
and a still greater number diverted from the unendowed 
pursuit of human welfare in other directions. Such a man 
as myself who is known to command a considerable 

322 



THE LAST MEETING 

publicity is necessarily a prey to those moral entrepre- 
neurs. All sorts of ridiculous and petty incidents had 
forced this side of public effort upon me, but hitherto 
I had been able to say, with a laugh or sigh as the case 
warranted, "So much is dear old humanity and all of 
us"; and to remember the great residuum of nobility 
that remained. Now fliat last saving consideration 
refused to be credible. I lay with my body and my 
mind in pain thinking these people over, thinking myself 
over too with the rest of my associates, thinking drearily 
and weakly, recalling spites, dishonesties and vanities, 
feuds and absurdities, until I was near persuaded that all 
my dreams of wider human understandings, of great ends 
beyond the immediate aims and passions of common 
everyday lives, could be at best no more than the refuge of 
shy and weak and ineffective people from the failure of 
their personal lives. . . . 

We idealists are not jolly people, not honest simple 
people; the strain tells upon us; even to ourselves we are 
unappetizing. Aren't the burly, bellowing fellows after 
all lighter, with their simple natural hostility to every- 
thing foreign, their valiant hatred of everything unlike 
themselves, their contempt for aspiring weakness, their 
beer and lush sentiment, their here-to-day-and-gone-to- 
morrow conviviality and fellowship? Good fellows! 
While we others, lost in filmy speculations, in moon-and- 
star snaring and the chase of dreams, stumble where even 
they walk upright. . . . 

You know I have never quite believed in myself, never 
quite believed in my work or my religion. So it has 
always been with me and always, I suppose, will be. 
I know I am purblind, I know I do not see my way clearly 

3 2 3 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

nor very far; I have to do with things imperfectly appre- 
hended. I cannot cheat my mind away from these con- 
victions. I have a sort of hesitation of the soul as other 
men have a limp in their gait. God, I suppose, has a 
need for lame men. God, I suppose, has a need for blind 
men and fearful and doubting men, and does not intend 
life to be altogether swallowed up in staring sight. Some 
things are to be reached best by a hearing that is not dis- 
tracted by any clearer senses. But so it is with me, and 
this is the innermost secret I have to tell you. 

I go valiantly for the most part I know, but despair 
is always near to me. In the common hours of my life 
it is as near as a shark may be near a sleeper in a ship; 
the thin effectual plank of my deliberate faith keeps me 
secure, but in these rare distresses of the darkness the 
plank seems to become transparent, to be on the verge 
of dissolution, a sense of life as of an abyssmal flood, full 
of cruelty, densely futile, blackly aimless, penetrates my 
defences. . . . 

I don't think I can call these stumblings from con- 
viction unbelief; the limping man walks for all his limping, 
and I go on in spite of my falls. " Though he slay me yet 
will I trust in him. . . ." 

I fell into an inconsecutive review of my life under this 
light that touched every endeavor with the pale tints of 
failure. And as that flow of melancholy reflection went 
on, it was shot more and more frequently with thoughts of 
Mary. It was not a discursive thinking about Mary but a 
definite fixed direction of thought towards her. I had not 
so thought of her for many years. I wanted her, I felt, 
to come to me and help me out of this distressful pit into 
which my spirit had fallen. I believed she could. I 

324 



THE LAST MEETING 

perceived our separation as an irreparable loss. She had 
a harder, clearer quality than I, a more assured courage, 
a readier, surer movement of the mind. Always she hadl 
"lift" for me. And then I had a curious impression that 
I had heard her voice calling my name, as one might call 
out in one's sleep. I dismissed it as an illusion, and then 
I heard it again. So clearly that I sat up and listened 
breathless. . . . 

Mixed up with all this was the intolerable uproar and 
talking of a little cascade not fifty yards from the hotel. 
It is curious how distressing that clamor of running water, 
which is so characteristic of the Alpine night, can become. 
At last those sounds can take the likeness of any voice 
whatever. The water, I decided, had called to me, and 
now it mocked and laughed at me. . . . 

The next morning I descended at some late hour by 
Swiss reckoning, and discovered two ladies in the morn- 
ing sunlight awaiting breakfast at a little green table. 
One rose slowly at the sight of me, and stood and surveyed 
me with a glad amazement. 



2 

There she stood real and solid, a little unfamiliar in her 
tweeds and with her shining eyes intimate and unfor- 
gettable, as though I had never ceased to see them for all 
those intervening years. And bracing us both and hold- 
ing back our emotion was, quite unmistakably, Miss 
Summersley Satchel, a blonde business-like young woman 
with a stumpy nose very cruelly corrugated and inflamed 
by a pince-nez that savagely did much more than its duty 

325 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

by its name. She remained seated, tilting her chair a 
little, pushing herself back from the table and regarding 
\me intelligently. 

It was one of those moments in life when one is taken 
unawares. I think our common realization of the need 
of masking the reality of our encounter, the hasty search 
in our minds for some plausible face upon this meeting, 
must have been very obvious to the lady who observed 
us. Mary's first thought was for a pseudonym. Mine 
was to make it plain we met by accident. 

"It's Mr. Stephen!" said Mary. 

"It's you!" 

"Dropped out of the sky!" 

" From over there. I was benighted and go there late." 

"Very late?" 

"One gleam of light and a yawning waiter. Or I 
should have had to break windows. . . . And then I meet 
you!" 

Then for a moment or so we were silent, with our sense 
of the immense gravity of this position growing upon us. 
A little tow-headed waiter-boy appeared with their coffee 
and rolls on a tray poised high on his hand. 

"You'll have your coffee out here with us?" said 
Mary. 

"Where else?" said I, as though there was no con- 
ceivable alternative, and told the tow-headed waiter. 

Belatedly Mary turned to introduce me to her secre- 
tary: "My friend Miss Summersley Satchel. Mr. 
Stephen." Miss Satchel and I bowed to each other and 
agreed that the lake was very beautiful in the morning 
light. " Mr. Stephen," said Mary, in entirely unnecessary 
explanation, "is an old friend of my mother's. And I 

326 



THE LAST MEETING 

haven't seen him for years. How is Mrs. Stephen and 
the children?" 

I answered briefly and began to tell of my climb down 
the Titlis. I addressed myself with unnecessary explicit- 
ness to Miss Satchel. I did perhaps over-accentuate the 
extreme fortuitousness of my appearance. . . . From 
where I stood, the whole course of the previous day after 
I had come over the shoulder was visible. It seemed 
a soft little shining pathway to the top, but the dangers 
of the descent had a romantic intensification in the 
morning light. "The rule of the game," said I, "is that 
one stops and waits for daylight. I wonder if anyone 
keeps that rule." 

We talked for a time of mountains, I still standing a 
little aloof until my coffee came. Miss Summersley 
Satchel produced that frequent and most unpleasant bye- 
product of a British education, an intelligent interest in 
etymology. "I wonder," she said, with a brow of ruffled 
omniscience and eyeing me rather severely with a mag- 
nified eye, "why it is called Titlis. There must be some 
reason. ..." 

Presently Miss Satchel was dismissed indoors on a 
transparent excuse and Mary and I were alone together. 
We eyed one another gravely. Perhaps all the more 
gravely because of the wild excitement that was quicken- 
ing our pulse and breathing, and thrilling through our 
nerves. She pushed back the plate before her and put 
her dear elbows on the table and dropped her chin between 
her hands in an attitude that seemed all made of little 
memories. 

"I suppose," she said, "something of this kind was 
bound to happen." 

327 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

She turned her eyes to the mountains shining in the 
morning light. "I'm glad it has happened in a beautiful 
place. It might have been anywhere." 

"Last night," I said, "I was thinking of you and 
wanting to hear your voice again. I thought I did." 

"I too. I wonder if we had some dim percep- 
tion. . . ." 

She scanned my face. "Stephen, you're not much 
changed. You're looking well. . . . But your eyes, 
they're dog-tired eyes. Have you been working too 
hard?" 

"A conference what did you call them once? a Car- 
negieish conference in London. Hot weather and fuss- 
ing work and endless hours of weak grey dusty speeches, 
and perhaps that clamber over there yesterday was too 
much. It was too much. In India I damaged a leg. . . . 
I had meant to rest here for a day." 

"Well, rest here." 

"With you!" 

"Why not? Now you are here." 

"But After all, we've promised." 

"It's none of our planning, Stephen." 

"It seems to me I ought to go right on so soon as 
breakfast is over." 

She weighed that with just the same still pause, the 
same quiet moment of lips and eyes that I recalled so well. 
It was as things had always been between us that she 
should make her decision first and bring me to it. 

"It isn't natural," she decided, "with the sun rising 
and the day still freshly beginning that you should go 
or that I should go. I've wanted to meet you like this 
and talk about things, ten thousand times. And as for 

328 



THE LAST MEETING 

me Stephen I won't go. And I won't let you go if I can 
help it. Not this morning, anyhow. No. Go later in the 
day if you will, and let us two take this one talk that 
God Himself has given us. We've not planned it. It's 
His doing, not ours." 

I sat, yielding. "I am not so sure of God's participa- 
tion," I said. "But I know I am very tired, and glad to 

be with you. I can't tell you how glad. So glad I 

think I should weep if I tried to say it. ..." 

"Three, four, five hours perhaps even if people know. 
Is it so much worse than thirty minutes? We've broken 
the rules already; we've been flung together; it's not our 
doing, Stephen. A little while longer adds so little to 
the offence and means to us " 

"Yes," I said, "but if Justin knows?" 

"He won't." 

"Your companion?" 

There was the briefest moment of reflection. "She's 
discretion itself," she said. 

"Still " 

"If he's going to know the harm is done. We may 
as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. And he won't 
know. No one will know." 

"The people here." 

"Nobody's here. Not a soul who matters. I doubt 
if they know my name. . . . No one ever talks to 
me." 

I sat in the bright sunshine, profoundly enervated and 
quite convinced, but still maintaining out of mere indo- 
lence a show of hesitation. . . . 

"You take the good things God sends you, Stephen 
as I do. You stay and talk with me now, before the cur- 

329 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 



tain falls again. We've tired of letters. You stay and 
talk to me. 

"Here we are, Stephen, and it's the one chance that 
is ever likely to come to us in all our lives. Well keep 
the point of honor; and you shall go to-day. But don't 
let's drive the point of honor into the quick. Go easy 
Stephen, old friend. . . . My dear, my dear! What 
has happened to you? Have you forgotten? Of course! 
Is it possible for you to go, mute, with so much that 
we can say. . . . And these mountains and this sun- 
light! . . ." 

I looked up to see her with her elbows on the table and 
her hands clasped under her phin; that face close to mine, 
her dear blue eyes watching me and her lips a little apart. 

No other human being has ever had that effect upon 
me, so that I seem to feel the life and stir in that other 
body more than I feel my own. 



3 

From the moment when I confessed my decision to 
stay we gave no further thought to the rightfulness or 
wisdom of spending the next few hours together. We 
thought only of those hours. Things lent themselves to 
us. We stood up and walked out in front of the hotel 
and there moored to a stake at the edge of the water 
was a little leaky punt, the one vessel on the Engstlen 
See. We would take food with us as we decided and row 
out there to where the vast cliffs came sheer from the 
water, out of earshot or interference and talk for all the 
time we had. And I remember now how Mary stood and 

330 



THE LAST MEETING 

called to Miss Satchel's window to tell her of this inten- 
tion, and how I discovered again that exquisite slender 
grace I knew so well. 

You know the very rowing out from the shore had in 
it something sweet and incredible. It was as if we were 
but dreaming together and might at any moment awaken 
again, countless miles and a thousand things apart. I 
rowed slowly with those clumsy Swiss oars that one must 
thrust forward, breaking the smooth crystal of the lake, 
and she sat sideways looking forward, saying very little 
and with much the same sense I think of enchantment 
and unreality. And I saw now for the first time as I 
watched her over my oars that her face was changed; 
she was graver and, I thought, stronger than the Mary I 
had known. 

Even now I can still doubt if that boat and lake werej 
real. And yet I remember even minute and irrelevant | 
details of the day's impressions with an extraordinary 
and exquisite vividness. Perhaps it is that very luminous 
distinctness which distinguishes these events from the 
common experiences of life and puts them so above the 
quality of things that are ordinarily real. 

We rowed slowly past a great headland and into the 
bay at the upper end of the water. We had not realized 
at first that we could row beyond the range of the hotel 
windows. The rock that comes out of the lake is a clear 
dead white when it is dry, and very faintly tinted, but 
when it is wetted it lights warmly with flashes and blotches 
of color, and is seen to be full of the most exquisite and 
delicate veins. It splinters vertically and goes up in 
cliffs, very high and sculptured, with a quality almost 
of porcelain, that at a certain level suddenly become 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

more rude and massive and begin to overhang. Under 
the cliffs the water is very deep and blue-green, and runs 
here and there into narrow clefts. This place where we 
landed was a kind of beach left by the recession of the 
ice, all the rocks immediately about us were ice-worn, 
and the place was paved with ice- worn boulders. Two 
huge bluffs put their foreheads together above us and 
hid the glacier from us, but one could feel the near presence 
of ice in the air. Out between them boiled a little torrent, 
and spread into a hundred intercommunicating channels 
amidst the great pebbles. And those pebbles were cov- 
ered by a network of marvellously gnarled and twisted 
stems bearing little leaves and blossoms, a network at 
once very ancient and very fresh, giving a peculiar gentle- 
ness and richness to the Alpine severity that had dwarfed 
and tangled them. It was astounding that any plant 
could find nourishment among those stones. The great 
headland, with patches of yellowish old snow still linger- 
ing here and there upon its upper masses, had crept 
insensibly between us and the remote hotel and now hid 
it altogether. There was nothing to remind us of the 
world that had separated us, except that old and leaky 
boat we had drawn up upon the stones at the limpid 
water's edge. 

"It is as if we had come out of life together/' she 
whispered, giving a voice to my thought. 

She sat down upon a boulder and I sat on a lower slab 
a yard or so away, and we looked at one another. "It's 
still unreal," she said. 

I felt awkward and at a loss as I sat there before her, 
as a man unused to drawing-rooms might feel in the 
presence of a strange hostess. 

332 



THE LAST MEETING 

"You are so you," I said; "so altogether my nearest 
thing and so strange too, so far off, that I feel shy. . . . 

"I'm shy," I repeated. "I feel that if I speak loudly 
all this will vanish. . . ." 

I looked about me. "But surely this is the most 
beautiful place in the whole world! Is it indeed in the 
world?" 

"Stephen, my dear," she began presently, "what a 
strange thing life is ! Strange ! The disproportions ! The 
things that will not fit together. The little things that 
eat us up, and the beautiful things that might save 
us and don't save us, don't seem indeed to have any 
meaning in regard to ordinary sensible affairs. . . . This 
beauty. . . . 

"Do you remember, Stephen, how long ago in the 
old park you and I talked about immortality and you 
said then you did not want to know anything of what 
comes after life. Even now do you want to know? 
You are too busy and I am not busy enough. I want 
Jo be sure, not only to know, but to know that it is so, 
that this life no, not this life, but that life, is only the 
bleak twilight of the morning. I think death just dead 
death after the life I have had is the most impossible of 
ends. . . . You don't want particularly? I want to pas- 
sionately. I want to live again out of this body, Stephen, 
and all that it carries with it, to be free as beautiful 
things are free. To be free as this is free an exquisite 
clean freedom. . . . 

"I can't believe that the life of this earth is all that 

there is for us or why should we ever think it strange? 

Why should we still find the ordinary matter-of-fact 

things of everyday strange? We do because they aren't 

22 333 



T_HE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

us. . . . Eating. Stuffing into ourselves thin slices of 
what were queer little hot and eager beasts. . . . The 
perpetual need to do such things. And all the mad fury 
of sex, Stephen! . . . We don't live, we suffocate in our 
living bodies. They storm and rage and snatch; it isn't 
us, Stephen, really. It can't be us. It's all so excessive 
if it is anything more than the first furious rush into 
existence of beings that will go on go on at last to quite 
beautiful real things. Like this perhaps. To-day the 
world is beautiful indeed with the sun shining and love 
shining and you, my dear, so near to me. . . . It's so 
incredible that you and I must part to-day. It's as if 
someone told me the sun was a little mad. It's so per- 
fectly natural to be with you again. . . ." 

Her voice sank. She leant a little forward towards me. 
"Stephen, suppose that you and I were dead to-day. 
Suppose that when you imagined you were climbing yester- 
day, you died. Suppose that yesterday you died and that 
you just thought you were still climbing as you made your 
way to me. Perhaps you are dead up there on the moun- 
tain and I am lying dead in my room in this hotel, and 
this is the Great Beginning. . . . 

"Stephen, I am talking nonsense because I am so happy 
to be with you here. . . ." 



For a time we said very little. Then irregularly, 
disconnectedly, we began to tell each other things about 
ourselves. 

The substance of our lives seemed strangely objective 
334 



THE LAST MEETING 

that day; we had as it were come to one another clean 
out of our common conditions. She told me of her 
troubles and her secret weaknesses; we bared our spirits 
and confessed. Both of us had the same tale of mean 
and angry and hasty impulses, both of us could find 
kindred inconsistencies, both had an exalted assurance 
that the other would understand completely and forgive 
and love. She talked for the most part, she talked 
much more than I, with a sort of wonder at the things 
that had happened to her, and for long spaces we did 
not talk at all nor feel the need of talking, and what 
seems very strange to me now, seeing that we had been 
impassioned lovers, we never kissed; we never kissed at 
all; I do not even remember that I thought of kissing her. 
We had a shyness between us that kept us a little apart, 
and I cannot remember that we ever touched one another 
except that for a time she took me and led me by the hand 
towards a little place of starry flowers that had drawn her 
eyes and which she wished me to see. Already for us two 
our bodies were dead and gone. We were shy, shy of 
any contact, we were a little afraid of one another, there 
was a kind of awe between us that we had met again. 

And in that strange and beautiful place her fancy that 
we were dead together had a fitness that I cannot possibly 
convey to you. I cannot give you by any writing the 
light and the sweet freshness of that high .desolation. 
You would need to go there. What was lovely in our 
talk, being said in that setting, would seem but a rambling 
discourse were I to write it down, as I believe that even 
now I could write it down word for word almost, every 
thought of it, so fresh does it remain with me. . . . 

My dear, some moments are eternal. It seems to me 

335 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

that as I write to tell you of this I am telling you not of 
something that happened two years ago but of a thing 
immortal. It is as if I and Mary were together there 
holding the realities of our lives before us as though they 
were little sorry tales written in books upon our knees. . . . 



5 

It was still in the early afternoon that we came down 
again across the meandering ice-water streams to our old 
boat, and pushed off and rowed slowly out of that magic 
corner back to every-day again. . . . 

Little we knew to what it was we rowed. 

As we glided across the water and rounded the head- 
land and came slowly into view of the hotel again, Mary 
was reminded of our parting and for a little while she was 
disposed to make me remain. "If you could stay a little 
longer," she said, "Another day? If any harm is done, 
it's done." 

"It has been beautiful," I said, "this meeting. It's 
just as if when I was so jaded and discouraged that I 
could have put my work aside and despaired altogether, 
some power had said, ' Have you forgotten the friendship 
I gave you?' . . . But we shall have had our time. We've 
met, we've seen one another, we've heard one another. 
We've hurt no one. ..." 

"You will go?" 

"To-day. Before sunset. Isn't it right that I should 
go?" 

"Stay," she whispered, with a light in her eyes, 

"No. I dare not." 

336 



THE LAST MEETING 

She did not speak for a long time. 

"Of course," she said at last, "you're right. You 
only said I would have said it for you if you had not. 
You're so right, Stephen. ... I suppose, poor silly little 
things, that if you stayed we should certainly begin mak- 
ing love to each other. It would be necessary. We 
should fence about a little and then there it would be. 
No barrier to stop us. And neither of us wants it to 
happen. It isn't what we want. You would become 
urgent, I suppose, and I should be coquettish. In spite 
of ourselves that power would make us puppets. As if 

already we hadn't made love I could find it in my heart 

now. . . . Stephen I could make you stay. . . . 

"Oh! Why are we so tormented, Stephen? In the 
next world we shall meet, and this will trouble us no longer. 
The love will be there oh, the love will be there, like 
something that has at last got itself fully born, got itself 
free from some queer clinging seed-case. . . . 

"We shall be rid of jealousy, Stephen, that inflammation 
of the mind, that bitterness, that pitiless sore, so that I 
shan't be tormented by the thought of Rachel and she will 
be able to tolerate me. She was so sweet and wonderful 
a girl with those dark eyes. And I've never done her 
justice never. Nor she me. I snatched you from her. 
I snatched you. . . . 

"Someday we shall be different. ... All this putting 
oneself round another person like a fence, against everyone 
else, almost against everything else; it's so wicked, so 
fierce. 

" It's so possible to be different. Sometimes now, some- 
times for long parts of a day I have no base passions at all 
even in this life. To be like that always! But I can't 

337 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

see clearly how these things can be ; one dreams of them in a 
kind of luminous mist, and if one looks directly at them, 
they vanish again. . . ." 

6 

And at last we came to the landing, and moored the 
little boat and walked up the winding path to the hotel. 
The dull pain of separation was already upon us. 

I think we had forgotten Miss Summersley Satchel 
altogether. But she appeared as we sat down to tea at 
that same table at which we had breakfasted, and joined 
us as a matter of course. Conceivably she found the 
two animated friends of the morning had become rather 
taciturn. Indeed there came a lapse of silence so porten- 
tous that I roused myself to effort and told her, all over 
again, as I realized afterwards, the difficulties that had 
benighted me upon Titlis. Then Miss Satchel regaled 
Mary with some particulars of the various comings and 
goings of the hotel. I became anxious to end this tension 
and went into the inn to pay my bill and get my knapsack. 
When I came out Mary stood up. 

" I'll come just a little way with you, Stephen/' she said, 
and I could have fancied the glasses of the companion 
flashed to hear the surname of the morning reappear a 
Christian name in the afternoon. . . . 

"Is that woman behind us safe?" I asked, breaking 
the silence as we went up the mountain-side. 

Mary looked over her shoulder for a contemplative 
second. 

" She's always been discretion itself." 

We thought no more of Miss Satchel. 
338 



THE LAST MEETING 

"This parting, " said Mary, "is the worst of the price 
we have to pay. . . . Now it comes to the end there seem a 
thousand things one hasn't said. . . ." 

And presently she came back to that. "We shan't 
remember this so much perhaps. It was there we met, 
over there in the sunlight among those rocks. I suppose 
perhaps we managed to say something. ..." 

As the ascent grew steeper it became clear that if I was 
to reach the Melch See Inn by nightfall, our moment for 
parting had come. And with a "Well," and a white- 
lipped smile and a glance at the Argus-eyed hotel, she held 
out her hand to me. ' ' I shall live on this, brother Stephen, ' ' 
she said, "for years." 

"I too," I answered. . . . 

It was wonderful to stand and face her there, and 
see her real and living with the warm sunlight on her, 
and her face one glowing tenderness. We clasped hands ; 
all the warm life of our hands met and clung and 
parted. 

I went on alone up the winding path, it zigzags up 
the mountain-side in full sight of the hotel for the better 
part of an hour climbing steadily higher and looking 
back and looking back until she was just a little strip of 
white that halted and seemed to wave to me. I waved 
back and found myself weeping. ' ' You fool !" I said to my- 
self, " Go on" ; and it was by an effort that I kept on my 
way instead of running back to her again. Presently the 
curvature of the slope came up between us and hid her 
altogether, hid the hotel, hid the lakes and the cliffs. . . . 

It seemed to me that I could not possibly see her any 
more. It was as if I knew that sun had set for ever. 



339 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 



7 

I lay at the Melch See Inn that night, and rose betimes 
and started down that wild grey gorge in the early morn- 
ing light. I walked to Sachseln, caught an early train to 
Lucerne and went on in the afternoon to Como. And 
there I stayed in the sunshine taking a boat and rowing 
alone far up the lake and lying in it, thinking of love and 
friendship and the accidents and significance of my life, 
and for the most part not thinking at all but feeling, feel- 
ing the glow of our meeting and the finality of our separa- 
tion, as one feels the clear glow of a sunset when the wind 
rises and the cold night draws near. Everything was per- 
vaded by the sense of her. Just over those mountains, 
I thought, is Mary. I was alone in my boat, but her 
presence filled the sky. It seemed to me that at any 
moment I could go to her. And the last vestige of any 
cloud between us for anything we had done or failed to 
do in these crises of distress and separation, had vanished 
and gone altogether. 

In the afternoon I wrote to Rachel. I had not written 
to her for three days, and even now I told her nothing of 
my meeting with Mary. I had not written partly because 
I could not decide whether I should tell her of that or not; 
in the end I tried to hide it from her. It seemed a little 
thing in regard to her, a thing that could not hurt her, a 
thing as detached from her life and as inconsecutive as a 
dream in my head. 

Three days later I reached Milan, a day before the formal 
opening of the Peace Congress. But I found a telegram 
had come that morning to the Poste Restante to banish 

340 



THE LAST MEETING 

all thought of my pacific mission from my mind. It came 
from Paris and its blue ribbon of text ran: 

"Come back at once to London. Justin has been 
told of our meeting and is resolved upon divorce. Will 
do all in my power to explain and avert but feel you 
should know at once" 

There are some things so monstrously destructive to 
all we hold dear that for a time it is impossible to believe 
them. I remember now that as I read that amazing 
communication through at the first reading it was a 
little difficult to understand because the Italian operator 
had guessed at one or two of the words, no real sense of its 
meaning came to me. That followed sluggishly. I felt 
as one might feel when one opens some offensive anony- 
mous letter or hears some preposterous threat. 

"What nonsense!" I said, faint-heartedly. I stood for 
a time at my bedroom window trying to shake this fact 
altogether off my mind. But it stayed, and became more 
and more real. Suddenly with a start I perceived it was 
real. I had to do things forthwith. 

I rang the bell and asked for an Orario. "I shan't 
want these rooms. I have to go back to England/ 1 1 said. 
"Yes, I have had bad news." . . . 



8 

"We've only got to explain," I told myself a hundred 
times during that long sleepless journey. The thundering 
wheels so close beneath my head echoed: "Explain. Oh 
yes! Explain! Explain! Explain!" 

34i 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

And something, a voice to which I would not listen, 
urged: "Suppose they do not choose to believe what you 
explain." 

When I sat face to face with Maxwell Hartington, 
my solicitor, in his ink-splashed, dirty, yellow-grained 
room with its rows of black tin boxes, I could no longer 
ignore that possibility. Maxwell Hartington sat back 
in his chair after his fashion, listening to my story, breath- 
ing noisily through his open mouth, perspiring little beads 
and looking more out of condition than ever. I never 
knew a man so wine-sodden and so sharp-witted. 

"That's all very well, Stratton," he said, "between 
ourselves. Very unfortunate and all that sort of thing. 
But it doesn't satisfy Justin evidently; and we've got 
to put a different look on it if we can, before we go before 

a jury. You see " He seemed to be considering and 

rejecting unpalatable phrases. ' ' They won't understand. ' ' 

"But," I said, "after all a mere chance of the same 
hotel. There must be more evidence than that." 

"You spent the night in adjacent rooms," he said 
dryly. 

"Adjacent rooms!" I cried. 

He regarded me for a moment with something bor- 
dering on admiration. "Didn't you know?" he said. 

"No." 

' ' They've routed that out. You were sleeping with your 
two heads within a yard of one another anyhow. Thirty- 
six you had, and she had thirty-seven." 

"But," I said and stopped. 

Maxwell Harrington's admiration gave place I think 
to a slight resentment at my sustained innocence. "And 
Lady Mary changed rooms with her secretary two nights 

342 



THE LAST MEETING 

before to be near the vacant room. The secretary went 
into number 12 on the floor below, a larger room, at 
thirteen francs a day, and one not exposed to the early 
daylight. . . ." 

He turned over a paper on his desk. "You didn't 
know, of course," he said. "But what I want to have" 
and his voice grew wrathful " is sure evidence that 
you didn't know. No jury on earth is going to believe 

you didn't know. No jury! Why," his mask 

dropped "no man on earth is going to believe a yarn 
like that! If that's all you have, Stratton " 



9 

Our London house was not shut up two servants 
were there on board-wages against the possibility of 
such a temporary return as I was now making Rachel 
was away with you three children at Cromingham. I 
had not told her I was returning to London, and I had 
put up at one of my clubs. Until I had had a second 
interview with Maxwell Hartington I still would not 
let myself think that it was possible that Mary and I 
would fail with our explanations. We had the common 
confidence of habitually unchallenged people that our 
word would be accepted. I had hoped indeed to get 
the whole affair settled and abolished without anything 
of it coming to Rachel's ears. Then at my leisure I 
^hould be able to tell her exactly how things had come 
about. But each day made it clearer that things were 
not going to be settled, that the monstrous and the 
incredible was going to happen and that Justin had set 

343 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

his mind implacably upon a divorce. My sense of com- 
plete innocence had already been shaken by Maxwell 
Hartington; I had come to perceive that we had been 
amazingly indiscreet, I was beginning to think we had been 
criminally indiscreet. 

I saw Maxwell Hartington for a second time, and it 
became clear to me I must abandon any hope of keeping 
things further from Rachel. I took my luggage round 
to my house, to the great astonishment of the two servants, 
they had supposed of course that I was in Italy and 
then went down on the heels of a telegram to Rachel. I 
forget the wording of that telegram, but it was as little 
alarming as possible; I think I said something about 
"back in London for documents; shall try to get down to 
you." I did not specify any particular train or indeed 
state definitely that I was coming that day. 

I had never been to Cromingham before. I went to 
the house you occupied on the Esplanade and learnt that 
you were all upon the beach. I walked along the sea- 
wall scrutinizing the various bright groups of children 
and nursemaids and holiday people that were scattered 
over the sands. It was a day of blazing sunshine, and 
between the bright sky and the silver drabs of the sand 
stretched the low levels of a sea that had its customary 
green-grey touched for once with something of the sap- 
phire glow of the Mediterranean. Here and there were 
gay little umbrella tents or canvas shelters, and a bather 
or so and pink and white wading children broke the 
dazzling edge of foam. And I sought you with a kind of 
reluctance as though finding you would bring nearer the 
black irrational disaster that hung over us all. 

And when I found you at last you were all radiantly 
344 



THE LAST MEETING 

happy and healthy, the prettiest of families, and only your 
mother was touched with any gravity deeper than the 
joy of sunshine and sea. You and Mademoiselle Potm- 
an those days her ministrations were just beginning were 
busy constructing a great sea-wall that should really and 
truly stop the advancing tide. Rachel Two was a little 
apart, making with infinite contentment an endless 
multitude of conical sand pies with her little tin pail. 
Margaret, a pink inarticulate lump, scrabbled in the warm 
sand under Jessica's care. Your mother sat and watched 
you thoughtfully. And before any of you knew that I 
was there my shadow fell across you all. 

You accepted my appearance when I ought to have 
been in Italy with the unquestioning confidence with 
which you still take all my comings and goings. For 
you, Italy, America, any place is just round the corner. I 
was kissed with affection but haste, and you got back to 
your sand-works as speedily as possible. I inspected 
Rachel Two's mounds, she was giving them the names 
of her various aunts and uncles and patted the crowing 
Margaret, who ignored me. Rachel had sprung to her 
feet and kissed me and now hovered radiant over me as 
I caressed you youngsters. It was all so warm, so real, 
that for an instant the dark threat that hung over us all 
vanished from my skies, to return with the force of a blow. 

"And what has brought you back?" said Rachel. "I 
had expected a month of widowhood. What can have 
brought you back?" 

The dancing gladness in her eyes vanished swiftly as she 
waited for an answer to her question. She caught the 
note of tragedy from my face. "Why have you come 
back from Italy?" she asked in an altered voice. 

345 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"Rachel," I said taking her arm, with a desolating sense 
of the futility in my gesture of protection; "let us walk 

along the beach. I want to tell you something 

Something rather complicated." 

" Is there going to be war, Stephen?" she asked abruptly. 

It seemed then that this question which merely con- 
cerned the welfare of a hundred million people or so and 
pain, destruction and disaster beyond measure, was the 
most trivial of digressions. 

" No," I said. " I haven't thought about the war." 

"But I thought you were thinking of nothing else." 

"This has put it out of my head. It's something 

Something disastrous to us." 

"Something has happened to our money?" 

"I wish that was aU." 

"Then what is it?" Her mind flashed out. "It has 
something to do with Mary Justin." 

"How did you know that?" 

"I guessed." 

"Well. It is. You see in Switzerland we met." 

"You met!" 

"By accident. She had been staying at the hotel on 
Engstlen Alp." 

"You slept there!" cried Rachel. 

" I didn't know she was in the hotel until the next day." 

"And then you came away!" 

"That day." 

"But you talked together?" 

"Yes." 

"And for some reason You never told me, 

Stephen! You never told me. And you met. But 

Why is this, disaster?" 

346 



THE LAST MEETING 

"Because Justin knows and he means to divorce her 
and it may be he will succeed. . . ." 

Rachel's face had become white, for some time she said 
nothing. Then slowly, "And if he had not known and 
done that I should never have known." 

I had no answer to make to that. It was true. Rachel's 
face was very still, and her eyes stared at the situation 
laid bare to her. 

"When you began," she choked presently, "when she 
wrote I knew I felt " 

She ceased for fear she might weep, and for a time we 
walked in silence. 

"I suppose," she said desperately at last, "he will get 
his divorce." 

"I am afraid he will." 

"There's no evidence you didn't. . . ." 

"No." 

"And I never dreamt !" 

Then her passion tore at her. "Stephen my dear," 
she wept, "you didn't? you didn't? Stephen, indeed you 
didn't, did you? You kept faith with me as a husband 
should. It was an accident a real accident and there 
was no planning for you to meet together. It was as you 
say? I've never doubted your word ever I've never 
doubted you." 

Well, at any rate I could answer that plainly, and I 
did. 

"And you know, Stephen," she said, "I believe you. 
And I can't believe you. My heart is tormented. Why 
did you write to her? Why did you two write and go on 
writing? And why did you tell me nothing of that meet- 
ing? I believe you because I can't do anything but 

347 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

believe you. It would kill me not to believe you in a 
thing that came so near to us. And yet, there it is, like a 
knife being twisted in my heart that you met. Should 
I have known of your meeting, Stephen ever? I know 
I'm talking badly for you. . . . But this thing strikes me 
suddenly. Out of this clear beautiful sky ! And the chil- 
dren there so happy in the sunshine! I was so happy. 
So happy. With you coming. ... It will mean shames 
and law-courts and newspapers, losses of friends, losses of 
money and freedom. . . . My mother and my people! 
. . . And you and all the work you do! ... People will 
never forget it, never forgive it. They will say you 
promised. ... If she had never written, if she had kept 
to her bargain " 

"We should still have met." 

"Stephen! . . . Stephen, you must bear with me. . . ." 

"This is a thing," I said, "that falls as you say out of 
the sky. It seemed so natural for her to write. . . . 
And the meeting . . . it is like some tremendous disaster 
of nature. I do not feel I have deserved it. It is 
irrational. But there it is, little Rachel of my heart, and 
we have to face it. Whatever happens we have to go on. 
It doesn't alter the work we have to do. If it clips our 
wings we have to hop along with clipped wings. . . . 
For you I wish it could spare you. And she she too is 
a victim, Rachel." 

"She need not have written," said Rachel. "She need 
not have written. And then if you had met " 

She could not go on with that. 

"It is so hard," I said, "to ask you to be just to her 
and me. I wish I could have come to you and married 
you without all that legacy of things remembered. 

348 



THE LAST MEETING 

... I was what I was. . . . One can't shake off a thing 

in one's blood. And besides besides " 

I stopped helplessly. 

10 

And then Mary came herself to tell me there would be 
no divorce. 

She came to me unexpectedly. I had returned to town 
that evening, and next morning as I was sitting down in 
my study to answer some unimportant questions Max- 
well Hartington had sent me, my parlormaid appeared. 
" Can you speak," she asked, "to Lady Mary Justin?" 

I stood up to receive my visitor. 

She came in, a tall dark figure, and stood facing me in 
silence until the door had closed behind her. Her face 
was white and drawn and very grave. She stooped a 
little, I could see she had had no sleep, never before 
had I seen her face marked by pain. And she hesitated. 
. . . "My dear!" I said; "why have you come to 
me?" 

I put a chair for her and she sat down. 

For a moment she controlled herself with difficulty. 
She put her hand over her eyes, she seemed on the verge 
of bitter weeping. . . . 

"I came," she said at last. ... "I came. I had to 
come . . . to see you." 

I sat down in a chair beside her. 

"It wasn't wise," I said. "But never mind. You 
look so tired, my dear!" 

She sat quite still for a little while. 

Then she moved her arm as though she felt for me 
23 349 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

blindly, and I put my arms about her and drew her head 
to my shoulder and she wept. . . . 

"I knew," she sobbed, "if I came to you. . . ." 

Presently her weeping was over. 

"Get me a little cold water, Stephen," she said. "Let 
me have a little cold water on my face. I've got my 
courage now again. Just then, I was down too low. 
Yes cold water. Because I want to tell you things 
you will be glad to hear." . . . 

"You see, Stephen," she said and now all her self- 
possession had returned; "there mustn't be a divorce. 
I've thought it all out. And there needn't be a divorce." 

"Needn't be?" 

"No." 

"What do you mean?" 

"I can stop it." 

"But how?" 

"I can stop it. I can manage I can make a 
bargain. . . . It's very sweet, dear Stephen, to be here 
talking to you again." 

She stood up. 

"Sit at your desk, my dear," she said. "I'm all right 
now. That water was good. How good cold things can 
be! Sit down at your desk and let me sit here. And 
then I will talk to you. I've had such a time, my dear. 
Ah!" 

She paused and stuck her elbows on the desk and looked 
me in the eyes. And suddenly that sweet, frank smile 
of hers swept like sunshine across the wintry desolation 
of her face. "We've both been having a time," she said. 
"This odd little world, it's battered us with its fists. 
For such a little. And we were both so ridiculously 

350 



THE LAST MEETING 

happy. Do you remember it, the rocks and the sunshine 
and all those twisted and tangled little plants? And how 
the boat leaked and you baled it out ! And the parting, 
and how you trudged up that winding path away from me ! 
A grey figure that stopped and waved a little figure such 
a virtuous figure! And then, this storm! this awful 

hullabaloo! Lawyers, curses, threats . And Stella 

Summersley Satchel like a Fury of denunciation. What 
hatred that woman has hidden from me! It must have 
accumulated. . . . It's terrible to think, Stephen, how 
much I must have tried her. ... Oh! how far away 
those Alps are now, Stephen! Like something in another 
life. . . . And here we are! among the consequences." 

"But, you were saying we could stop the divorce." 

"Yes. We can. I can. But I wanted to see you, 
before I did. Somehow I don't feel lonely with you. 
I had to see you. . . . It's good to see you." 

She looked me in the face. Her tired eyes lit with a 
gleam of her former humor. 

"Have you thought," she asked, "of all that will 
happen if there is a divorce?" 

"I mean to fight every bit of it." 

"They'll beat you." 

"We'll see that." 

"But they will. And then?" 

"Why should one meet disaster half way?" 

"Stephen!" she said; "what will happen to you when 
I am not here to make you look at things? Because I 
shan't be here. Not within, reach of you. . . . There 
are times when I feel like a mother to you. Never more 
than now. . . ." 

And then with rapid touches she began to picture 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

the disaster before me. She pictured the Court and 
our ineffectual denials, she made me realize the storm of 
hostility that was bound to burst over us. "And think 
of me," she said. "Stripped I shall be and outcast." 

"Not while I live!" 

"But what can you do for me? You will have Rachel. 
How can you stand by me? You can't be cruel to Rachel. 
You know you can't be cruel to Rachel. Look me in the 
face, Stephen; tell me. Yes. . . . Then how can you stand 
by me?" 

"Somehow!" I cried foolishly and stopped. 

"They'll use me to break your back with costs and dam- 
ages. There'll be those children of yours to think of. ..." 

"My God!" I cried aloud. "Why do you torment 
me? Haven't I thought enough of those things? . . . 
Haven't I seen the ruin and the shame, the hopeless trap, 
men's trust in me gone, my work scattered and ended 
again, my children growing up to hear this and that ex- 
aggeration of our story. And you . All the bravery 

of your life scattered and wasted. The thing will pursue 
us all, cling to us. It will be all the rest of our lives for 
us. . . ." 

I covered my face with my hands. 

When I looked up, her face was white and still, and full 
of a strange tenderness. "I wouldn't have you, Stephen 
I wouldn't have you be cruel to Rachel. ... I just 
wanted to know something. . . . But we're wandering. 
We're talking nonsense. Because as I said, there need be 
no divorce. There will be no divorce at all. That's 
what I came to tell you. I shall have to pay in a way, 
Stephen. . . . Not impossibly. Don't think it is anything 
impossible. . , ," 

352 



THE LAST MEETING 

Then she bit her lips and sat still. . . . 

"My dear," I whispered, "if we had taken one another 
at the beginning. . . ." 

But she went on with her own thoughts. 

"You love those little children of yours, " she said. 
"And that trusting girl- wife. . . .Of course you love them. 
They're yours. Oh! they're so deeply yours. . . . 
Yours. . . ." 

"Oh my dear! don't torture me! I do love them. 
But I love you too." 

"No," she said, "not as you do them." 

I made a movement of protest. 

"No," she said, whitely radiant with a serenity I had 
never seen before in her face. "You love me with your 
brain. With your soul if you like. I know, my poor 
bleeding Stephen! Aren't those tears there? Don't 
mind my seeing them, Stephen. . . . Poor dear! Poor 
dear! . . . You love them with your inmost heart. Why 
should you mind that I see you do? . . .All my life 
I've been wrong, Stephen, and now I know too late. It's 
the things we own we love, the things we buy with our 
lives. . . . Always I have been hard, I've been a little hard. 
. . . Stephen, my dear, I loved you, always I have loved 
you, and always I have tried to keep myself. . . . It's too 
late. ... I don't know why I am talking like this. . . . But 
you see I can make a bargain now it's not an impossible 
bargain and save you and save your wife and save your 
children " 

"But how?" I said, still doubting. 

"Never mind how, Stephen. Don't ask me how now. 
Nothing very difficult. Easy. But I shall write you no 
more letters see you no more. Never. And that's 

353 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

why I had to come, you see, why I was able to come to 
you, just to see you and say good-bye to you, and take 
leave of you, dear Love that I threw away and loved too 
late " 

She bit her lip and faced me there, a sweet flushed living 
thing, with a tear coursing down her cheek, and her mouth 
now firm and steady. 

" You can stop this divorce?" I said, "But how, Mary?" 

"No, don't ask me how. At a price. It's a bargain. 
No, no! Don't think that, a bargain with Justin, but 
not degrading. Don't, my dear, let the thought of it 
distress you. I have to give earnests. . . . Never, dear, 
never through all the dusty rest of life again will you and 
I speak together. Never! Even if we come face to face 
once more no word. ..." 

"Mary," I said, "what is it you have to do? You 
speak as if What is it Justin demands?" 

"No! do not ask me that. . . . Tell me you see we've 
so much to talk about, Stephen tell me of all you are 
going to do. Everything. Because I've got to make a 
great vow of renunciation of you. Not to think again 
not even to think of you again. . . . No, no. I'm not even 
to look for you in the papers any more. There's to be no 
tricks this time. And so you see I want to fill up my mind 
with you. To store myself with you. Tell me your 
work is worth it that it's not like the work of everyone. 
Tell me, Stephen that. I want to believe that tre- 
mendously. Don't be modest now. That will be cruel. 
I want to believe that I am at last to do something that is 
worth doing, something not fruitless. ..." 

"Are you to go into seclusion," I asked suddenly, "to 

be a nun ?" 

354 



THE LAST MEETING 

"It is something like that/' she said; "very like that. 
But I have promised practically not to tell you that. 
Tell me your soul, Stephen, now. Give me something 
I may keep in my mind through through all those 
years of waiting. . . ." 

"But where?" I cried. "What years of waiting?" 
"In a lonely place, my dear among mountains. High 
and away. Very beautiful, but lonely. A lake. Great 
rocks. . . . Yes, like that place. So odd. ... I shall have 
so much time to think, and I shall have no papers no 
news. I mustn't talk to you of that. Don't let me talk 
to you of that. I want to hear about this world, this 
world I am going to leave, and how you think you are going 
on fighting in the hot and dusty struggle to make the 
world cool and kind and reasonable, to train minds better, 
to broaden ideas ... all those things you believe in. All 
those things you believe in and stick to even when they 
are dull. Now I am leaving it, I begin to see how fine it is 
to fight as you want to fight. A tiresome inglorious 
lifelong fight. . . . You really believe, Stephen?" 



And then suddenly I read her purpose. 

"Mary," I cried, and stood up and laid my hand upon 
her arm, "Tell me what is it you mean to do. What 
do you mean to do?" 

She looked up at me defensively and for a moment 
neither of us spoke. 

"Mary," I said, and could not say what was in my 
thoughts. 

355 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

"You are wrong," she lied at last. . . . 

She stood up too and faced me. I held her shoulder 
and looked into her eyes. 

The gong of my little clock broke the silence. 

"I must go, Stephen," she said. "I did not see how 
the time was slipping by." 

I began to entreat her and she to deny. "You don't 
understand," she said, "you don't understand. Stephen! 
I had hoped you would understand. You see life, 
not as I see it. I wanted all sorts of splendid things 
and you begin to argue. You are shocked, you refuse 
to understand. . . . No. No. Take your hands off me, 
Stephen dear, and let me go. Let me go!" 

"But," I said, stupid and persistent, "what are you 
going to do?" 

"I've told you, Stephen, I've told you. As much as I 
can tell you. And you think this foolish thing. As 
though I could do that! Stephen, if I promise, will you 
let me go? . . ." 

12 

My mind leaps from that to the moment in the after- 
noon, when torn by intolerable distresses and anxiety I 
knocked and rang, and again knocked at the door of the 
house she occupied in South Street, with the intention of 
making one last appeal to her to live if, indeed, it was 
death she had in mind. I had let her go from me and in- 
stantly a hundred neglected things had come into my head. 
I could go away with her, I could threaten to die with her; 
it seemed to me that nothing in all the world mattered if 
only I could thrust back the dark hand of death to which 

356 



THE LAST MEETING 

she had so manifestly turned. I knew, I knew all along 
that her extorted promise would not bind her. I knew and 
I let the faintest shadow of uncertainty weaken and re- 
strain me. And I went to her too late. I saw instantly 
that I was too late when the door opened and showed me 
the scared face of a young footman whose eyes were red 
with tears. 

" Are you Doctor ?" he asked of my silence. 

"I want " I said. "I must speak to Lady Mary." 

He was wordless for a moment. "She she died, sir," 
he said. "She's died suddenly." His face quivered, he 
was blubbering. He couldn't say anything more; he 
stood snivelling in the doorway. 

For some moments I remained confronting him as if 
I would dispute his words. Some things the mind con- 
tests in the face of invincible conviction. One wants to 
thrust back time. . . . 



CHAPTER THE TWELFTH 
THE ARRAIGNMENT OF JEALOUSY 

i 

I SIT here in this graciously proportioned little room 
which I shall leave for ever next week, for already your 
mother begins to pack for England again. I look out 
upon the neat French garden that I have watched the 
summer round, and before me is the pile of manuscript 
that has grown here, the story of my friendship and 
love for Mary and of its tragic end, and of all the changes 
of my beliefs and purposes that have arisen out of that. 
I had meant it to be the story of my life, but how little 
of my life is in it! It gives, at most, certain acute points, 
certain salient aspects. I begin to realize for the first 
time how thin and suggestive and sketchy a thing any novel 
or biography must be. How we must simplify! How 
little can we convey the fullness of life, the glittering in- 
terests, the interweaving secondary aspects, the dawns 
and dreams and double refractions of experience! Even 
Mary, of whom I have labored to tell you, seems not so 
much expressed as hidden beneath these corrected sheets. 
She who was so abundantly living, who could love like 
a burst of sunshine and give herself as God gives the 
world, is she here at all in this pile of industrious inexpert 
writing? 

358 



THE ARRAIGNMENT 

Life is so much fuller than any book can be. All this 
story can be read, I suppose, in a couple of hours or so, 
but I have been living and reflecting upon and recon- 
sidering the substance of it for over forty years. I do 
not see how this book can give you any impression but 
that of a career all strained upon the frame of one tragic 
relationship, yet no life unless it is a very short young life 
can have that simplicity. Of all the many things I have 
found beautiful and wonderful, Mary was the most won- 
derful to me, she is in my existence like a sunlit lake seen 
among mountains, of all the edges by which life has wrought 
me she was the keenest. Nevertheless she was not all my 
life, nor the form of all my life. For a time after her 
death I could endure nothing of my home, I could not bear 
the presence of your mother or you, I hated the possi- 
bility of consolation, I went away into Italy, and it was 
only by an enormous effort that I could resume my in- 
terest in that scheme of work to which my life is given. 
But it is manifest I still live, I live and work and feel and 
share beauty. . . . 

It seems to me more and more as I live longer, that most 
poetry and most literature and particularly the literature 
of the past is discordant with the vastness and variety, 
the reserves and resources and recuperations of life as we 
live it to-day. It is the expression of life under cruder and 
more rigid conditions than ours, lived by people who loved 
and hated more naively, aged sooner and died younger 
than we do. Solitary persons and single events dominated 
them as they do not dominate us. We range wider, last 
longer, and escape more and more from intensity towards 
understanding. And already this astounding blow be- 
gins to take its place among other events, as a thing 

359 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

strange and terrible indeed, but related to all the strange- 
ness and mystery of life, part of the universal mysteries 
of despair and futility and death that have troubled my 
consciousness since childhood. For a time the death of 
Mary obscured her life for me, but now her living presence 
is more in my mind again. I begin to see that it is the 
reality of her existence and not the accidents of her end 
that matter most. It signifies less that she should have 
flung out of life when it seemed that her living could only 
have meant disaster to herself and to all she loved, than 
that all her life should have been hampered and restricted. 
Through all her life this brave and fine and beautiful being 
was for the most part of her possibilities, wasted in a 
splendid setting, magnificently wasted if you will, but 
wasted. 

2 

It was that idea of waste that dominated my mind in a 
strange interview I had with Justin. For it became neces- 
sary for me to see Justin in order that we should stamp 
out the whispers against her that followed her death. He 
had made it seem an accidental death due to an overdose 
of the narcotic she employed, but he had not been able 
to obliterate altogether the beginnings of his divorce 
proceedings. There had been talk on the part of clerks 
and possible witnesses. But of all that I need not tell 
you here; what matters is that Justin and I could meet 
without hatred or violence. I met a Justin grey-haired 
and it seemed to me physically shrunken, more than ever 
slow-speaking, with his habit of attentive silences more 
marked and that dark scar spread beyond his brows. 

360 



THE ARRAIGNMENT 

We had come to our parting, we had done our business 
with an affectation of emotional aloofness, and then 
suddenly he gripped me by the arm. "Stratton," he 

said, "we two We killed her. We tore her to 

pieces between us. . . ." 

I made no answer to this outbreak. 

' ' We tore her to pieces, ' ' he repeated. ' ' It's so damned 
silly. One gets angry like an animal." 

I became grotesquely anxious to assure him that, in- 
deed, she and I had been, as they say, innocent throughout 
our last day together. "You were wrong in all that," I 
said. "She kept her faith with you. We never planned 

to meet and when we met . If we had been brother 

and sister . Indeed there was nothing." 

"I suppose," he said, " I ought to be glad of that. But 
now it doesn't seem to matter very much. We killed her. 
. . . What does that matter to me now?" 



3 

And it is upon this effect of sweet and beautiful possi- 
bilities, caught in the net %f animal jealousies and thought- 
less motives and ancient rigid institutions, that I would 
end this writing. In Mary, it seems to me, I found both 
womanhood and fellowship, I found what many have 
dreamt of, love and friendship freely given, and I could 
do nothing but clutch at her to make her my possession. 
I would not permit her to live except as a part of my life. 
I see her now and understand her better than when she' 
was alive, I recall things that she said and wrote and it is 
clear to me, clearer perhaps than it ever was to her, that 

.361 



THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS 

she, with her resentment at being in any sense property, 
her self-reliant thought, her independence of standard, was 
the very prototype of that sister-lover who must replace 
the seductive and abject womanhood, owned, mastered 
and deceiving, who waste the world to-day. And she was 
owned, she was mastered, she was forced into concealment. 
What alternative was there for her? What alternative is 
there for any woman? She might perhaps have kept her 
freedom by some ill-paid work and at the price of every 
other impulse in her swift and eager nature. *She might 
have become one of those poor neuters, an independent 
woman. . . . Life was made impossible for her and she 
was forced to die, according to the fate of all untimely 
things. She was destroyed, not merely by the uncon- 
sidered, undisciplined passions of her husband and her 
lover, but by the vast tradition that sustains and enforces 
the subjugation of her sex. What I had from her, and 
what she was, is but a mere intimation of all that she and 
I might have made of each other and the world. 

And perhaps in this story I have said enough for you 
to understand why Mary has identified herself with some- 
thing world-wide, has added to herself a symbolical value, 
and why it is I find in the whole crowded spectacle of man- 
kind, a quality that is also hers, a sense of. fine things en- 
tangled and stifled and unable to free themselves from 
the ancient limiting jealousies which law and custom 
body. For I know that a growing multitude of men 
, and women outwear the ancient ways. The blood- 
v stamed organized jealousies of religious intolerance, the 
delusions of nationality and cult and race, that black 
hatred which simple people and young people and com- 
mon people cherish against all that is not in the likeness 

362 



THE ARRAIGNMENT 

of themselves, cease to be the undisputed ruling forces 
of our collective life. We want to emancipate our lives 
from this slavery and these stupidities, from dull hatreds 
and suspicion. The ripening mind of our race tires of 
these boorish and brutish and childish things. A spirit 
that is like hers, arises and increases in human affairs, a 
spirit that demands freedom and gracious living as our 
inheritance too long deferred, and I who loved her so 
blindly and narrowly now love her spirit with a dawning 
understanding. 

I will not be content with that compromise of jealousies 
which is the established life of humanity to-day. I give 
myself, and if I can I will give you, to the destruction of 
jealousy and of the forms and shelters and instruments of 
jealousy, both in my own self and in the thought and laws 
and usage of the world. ^ 



THE END 




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